I attended a brief lecture on RA 10173, or more popularly known as the Data Privacy Act, last Friday. It is always enlightening to listen to someone who can simplify complicated documents such as Republic Acts and IRRs. It helps ordinary people like myself understand how a particular law works and how I, as a citizen of this country, can benefit from it.
There were a lot of salient points that I gathered from last Friday’s lecture; but there were seven items that stood out from the rest. Probably because these are daily, ordinary information about myself that I readily give out to almost anyone who would ask for it. Little did I know that these are anything but ordinary information as these are unique details about myself and anyone who gets a hold of it could use it for fraudulent activities and ruin my name.
RA 10173 defines these personal information as sensitive. This means that any party who wishes to obtain these information from you or about you, must inform you properly, specify why they need your information, and must be granted your consent. Except when you are entering into a contractual agreement, you actually have the right to refuse giving out these personal information.
So what are these seven sensitive, personal and privileged information that we are not supposed to be sharing around with just anyone? Read on!
- A person’s RACE or ETHNIC ORIGIN
Your race is different from your nationality. All of us are Filipinos, but each of us has our own ethnic origin. It is our primary sense of belonging to an ethnic group.
Tagalog ka ba? Ilokano? Kapampangan ka ba?
These are common questions we ask each other when we are trying to get to know a person. It is common for Pinoys to identify themselves with the bayan or town where they were born or where their ancestors are from. Sadly, it has also become a root cause of discrimination and bullying among the younger generation.
You have the right to withhold this information if you feel uncomfortable sharing it with others.
- A person’s MARITAL STATUS
Are you married?
Why are you still single?
I thought you married so and so?
These are not just downright rude questions to ask someone, it is also technically prohibited by law. Unless the person you are asking is transacting some kind of business or application with you and his marital status is an imperative information to fulfill the transaction, then you have no business asking a person if he or she is married.
In the past, anybody can go to the PSA office (formerly NSO) and request for a copy of your Certificate of No Marriage (or CENOMAR). This is one way of making sure that the person you are planning to marry has the legal capacity to do so. You can no longer do this now. In a memo issued by the PSA last year, only the following may be issued copies of Certificate of Death, Certificate of Marriage, and Certificate of No Marriage of a particular person:
- The owner himself or through a duly authorized representative;
- His/her spouse, parent, direct descendants, guardian, or institution legally in-charge of him/her, if minor;
- The court or proper public official whenever absolutely necessary in administrative, judicial, or other official proceedings to determine the identity of a person;
- In case of the person’s death, the nearest of kin.
A good answer to the question, may asawa ka na ba? would be: Why do you want to know?
3. A person’s AGE
Ilang taon ka na nga?
I thought you’re so and so years old already?!
At a certain age, a person will find it difficult, even unnecessary, to reveal his age. We all need to learn to respect that.
Especially now that it is classified by law as sensitive information.
- A person’s RELIGIOUS, PHILOSOPHICAL, or POLITICAL affiliations.
Only in the Philippines will you find people talking about their religious affiliations over dinner, drinks, and even during office meetings, like it’s just some movie they saw during the weekend.
Iglesia ka ba? Katoliko ka?
Your religion, or lack of it, is a sensitive information. Be careful who you tell about your faith as this could be used to invade your privacy.
- A person’s HEALTH CONDITION
It baffles me how some people are still able to announce to the digital world that they are sick (posts a photo of his digital thermometer that reads 38.5), in pain (major headache, aaarggh!), or worse, in an emergency room (posts a photo of his hand injected with an IV drip) when they are supposedly sick, in pain, and worse, confined in a hospital bed!
Your health, and illnesses, and injuries, and other information discussed to you by your Physician are all sensitive information. There is a reason a doctor’s office is kept closed when a patient is consulting with him; all the information that he will be reading to the patient, based on the lab tests, x-rays, CT scans, and other procedures are SENSITIVE.
Don’t go around taking photos of your lab results and prescriptions and posting these on social media. On the other hand, you have no business finding out whether a person is suffering from a certain kind of illness or is being treated for a particular disease unless your job requires you to find out. Even then, you need the consent of the person before you gather such information.
Your health is a sensitive matter. Keep it to yourself.
- A person’s EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
Hindi ka ba nakatapos?
Ano bang natapos mo?
Only when you are filling out forms that require you to reveal your educational attainment should you disclose this sensitive information.
- A person’s GENETIC or SEXUAL PREFERENCES
Even without the lecture, I know better than to ask about a person’s sexual preference. Whether it is obvious in the person’s demeanor, or if gossip and hearsay are all I have as bases, I know I should not be prying into a person’s sexual identity.
You are not compelled to reveal your sexual preference(s). Personally, I do not see any reason why a document or any kind of transaction would want this information too.
Share this with your family, especially your kids who are exposed to the internet most of the time. Social media, online games, online shopping sites, and all these pages that we visit on a daily basis can be used to obtain our personal information if we are not careful. Often, these are disguised as innocent-looking pop-up windows asking for your name and location, or electronic forms that you need to fill out in order to qualify for some raffle. Be vigilant against these kinds of fraudulent activities.
Never give out your personal information to just anyone.