MANILA Filipino journalists plan to take to the streets soon in protest of the data privacy bill which the Senate passed on third reading on May 20 this year.
National Press Club president Benny Antiporda announced such plan, saying the bill's enactment into law might curtail press freedom in the country.
"The data privacy bill (Senate Bill 2965) is a tainted freedom of information (FOI) bill," he said during Saturday Forum @ Annabel's in Quezon City.
FOI aims to help facilitate access to information.
Senator Edgardo Angara sponsored SB 2965, which requires public and private entities to protect and preserve the integrity, security and confidentiality of personal data collected in respective operations.
"We should lay down the basis for companies to be responsible in maintaining confidentiality and integrity of digital data," a May 20, 2012 Senate press release quoted Angara as saying.
Thirteen senators voted favorably for the bill's passage.
They are Angara, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Joker Arroyo, Pia Cayetano, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Vicente Sotto III.
Antiporda said legislators approved SB 2965 without even seeking media's stand on the matter.
"There was no consultation with media - they clearly hid this from us," he said.
He believes the bill needs further scrutiny, noting a number of its provisions are vague.
"They just generalized and didn't elaborate on what privacy to protect " he said.
The bill also provides for penalizing journalists allegedly involved in confidentiality breaches, he said.
Antiporda said he would announce details about the planned street protest.
He called on media practitioners to support the bid for promoting press freedom nationwide.
Angara denies the bill will curtail press freedom, however.
"It was not our intention to penalize the media for doing their job of responsible reporting," he said in his May 31, 2012 press release.
"Only those whose actions were directly behind the release of private information will be held accountable. The Data Privacy Act will not be used to gag media."
He noted the bill primarily aims helping boost the country's information technology and business process outsourcing industry so this can better contribute to growth of the Philippine economy.
Enactment of the bill is expected to raise employment in the industry from one million jobs to four million jobs in the next four years, he said earlier.
The industry's revenues can also rise from US$ 9 billion in 2011 to US$ 25 billion by 2016, he said.
SB 2965 is based from Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and Council aside from being at par with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Information Privacy Framework standards, Angara said. (PNA)