Manila, Philippines – ALMOST as big a dollar earner as the blood, sweat and tears of our OFWs (who remit $1 billion every month) is the business process outsourcing industry, which made $11 billion last year and employed 650,000 workers (who didn’t have to sell their parents’ worldly goods in order to land a job in a strange country).
Of those BPO companies, 122 are located in Pasig – enough reason for Rep. Roman Romulo to shepherd a bill “protecting individual personal information in information and communications systems in the government and the private sector,” also known as the data privacy bill.
Bring up the word privacy in the same breath as communications and, as the congressman learned, you run into trouble with media. Which was what happened when he invited some of the most highly opinionated journalists to lunch to discuss the pros and cons of the bill. Which was anticlimactic, anyway, because the bill has been ratified in the House and the Senate.
The publishers and editors present howled in protest. After all, if many BPO clients are American and the US has no such law, why do we need one? Wouldn’t a water-tight contract be sufficient to guard a client’s database against leaks and other unauthorized disclosures (such as to a nosey reporter)? The congressman assured the journalists that “the bill does not penalize you,” only their BPO source, the law’s objective being to assure investors that the data they store in their computers are in safe hands (safe machines?).
Short of a presidential veto, I guess the best thing to hope for is that we will never have to invoke the law and its provisions against anyone.