26 June 2021

Digital Justice Consultation with Policy Experts

Notes from PH Digital Justice Initiative's Consultation and Workshop

Digital Justice - Policy Experts Consultation, held on April 25, 2021, is part of the series of consultations of the initiative aiming to gather insights, opinions, suggestions, and possible resolutions from the vital stakeholders of digitalization and betterment of the ICT ecosystem in the Philippines. In this event, the Philippine Digital Justice Initiative invited the office of Bayan Muna Representative, Congressman Carlos Zarate:

  • Data Ownership
  • Data Protection
  • Data Infrastructure
  • Data Democracy
Data Ownership
  • As a whole, the topic of Digital Justice is a new topic even for progressive house representatives like Congressman Zarate. However, political initiatives aiming to uphold the right for data protection has been present.
  • Committee on Information and Technology is the most active in the House of Representative. They frequently pass bills related to data, data information and technology.
  • There should be a regulatory board or regulation related to data ownership
  • People are prone to abuse if there are no rigid regulation for data ownership (e.g., police harassment asking for various info on pantry organizers).
  • Digitally-excluded sectors including farmers, workers, and the urban and rural poor would be the most vulnerable if endeavors to protect data would not take-off.
  • Legislative can help if we popularize and laymanize the ideas related to data commons and digital justice in general so the populace can be consulted and the input of the majority of the people could be catered
  • People’s organization such as CPU can create initiatives to extend these new topics to masses related to digital justice so people can familiarize and relate themselves to these topics.
  • How can we limit or regulate private institutions in what type of data they can collect, store, and use from their employees (e.g., collective voice outputs/solutions of BPO workers that can be transferred to AI in the future? Legal and ethical issues should be raised here. Affected workers and sectors should be covered.
  • How can the legislative and other people’s organization can help people own their data and secure it?
Data Protection
  • Constitutional rights to privacy extend to data through a particular law (Data Privacy Acts of 2012) aiming to protect our data. However, similar laws do not extend to the masses and only the digitally-literate few would maximize this albeit obsolete and limited law.
  • Similar to the issue of data ownership, digitally-excluded sectors would always be the most vulnerable.
  • Data Privacy Commission, which was created through Data Privacy Commission of 2012, is not even transparent in reports such as data breach cases. Foreign companies who gathered data in the Philippines may not be under the said law.
  • The ‘right to be forgotten’ is an interesting topic to introduce to the people in order to halt public or private institutions from possibly exploiting the data of people who earlier agreed for their data to be used.
  • Information campaign would be the most critical.
  • Checking the transparency in and reviewing the mandate of DICT, an agency receiving billions of funds but still relying on outsourced services, should be a pressing priority.
  • Initiatives should be inclined for the appreciation of the masses.
  • The topic of cross-border data is a rather new and complicated topic even for the people knowledgeable in ICT already.
Data Infrastructure
  • Consumers’ rights to repair and replace hardware for more affordable and sustainable digital products
  • Data infrastructure should be handled by the government and not be dominated by foreign investments and private institutions.
  • Amending the public service acts and enhancing the regulatory capture of government institutions.
  • Legislative offices should encourage private offices to decentralize the authorities in data handling. This issue is like a “Walking on eggshell” topic as an overwhelming government presence on private digital space would be considered a breach of freedom of speech while doing the opposite would lead to private companies becoming a supra-state controlling data on their favor.
Data Democracy
  • We should define first the terms on how we should democratize our data
  • Data Democracy should be seen as an international issue as well, since the private companies currently dominating the data collection and storage work on a global level and without borders
  • Data Ombudsman is feasible in ensuring and securing the data rights of the people. However, the making sure that this government institution would not be used as an appendage of the state to use for anti-people purposes is another topic.
  • Although creating government bodies securing the digital democracy of the people is viable, its national presence would be little if the appreciation of the people towards this issue is minimal. Adding another bureaucratic level would have no impact on the masses.
  • Passing the Freedom of Information Bill is the top priority for the progressive legislators, as this could be related to the rights of the people for data.