Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is PhilHealth violating our privacy?

We have received word from some of our sources that PhilHealth intends to provide a copy of their membership database to other government agencies. A memo was recently issued by the President of PhilHealth directing all their regional offices to extract the membership information and distribute it to other institutions.

Just what constitutes the membership database anyway? Basically all the information that you wrote down in your membership form is included in the membership database. This includes your address, telephone number, gender, date of birth, your dependents, civil status and your employer. We as members do not appreciate our personal information being given away to just anyone without our knowledge or permission as it violates our privacy and it is no different from giving away our identities to a strangers.

As a registering agency, PhilHealth should ensure the safety and appropriate use of the information they capture. If sharing this information is indeed necessary, wouldn't it be wise to have a non-disclosure agreement with the other party to ensure that only the right information will be provided to external parties and that the information will only be used for the purposes intended, nothing more and nothing less? In other companies, information is treated securely which is why information is protected from being leaked outside. Why then would PhilHealth be giving out their database, more so, our personal information without the necessary precautions?

We are not saying that data sharing is a bad thing. Given that it's supposed to be a straight government to government agreement, there is nothing irregular with sharing the membership data as long as there are reassurances that the data will not be copied by parties outside the government where it can be abused. Due diligence to protect our data should be ensured.

Just to be clear, we are just saying that PhilHealth should only provide information that is necessary to accomplish the goals it sets with other entities and that such information should be guarded via non-disclosure agreements to prevent unscrupulous parties misusing our personal information. They should, specify in writing, what information is to be shared, the parameters of how the information is to be used, and an assurance that the data will not be shared with outsiders.

In this day and age, knowledge is power. PhilHealth ought to be careful whom they trust our personal information with.

We just hope that PhilHealth takes the proper precautions before agreeing to distribute the data.

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