5 March 2021

DivinaLaw partner Atty. Jay-r C. Ipac discussed health and data privacy in the context of public health in the recently concluded 5th Data Privacy Summit held via Zoom from March 4 to March 5.

“Are data privacy principles applicable during a health crisis? Or, if we try to include some political dimension – the question will be “Are legal rights or civil liberty suspended during a public health emergency?”

“They are not. Otherwise, if rights are suspended during an emergency then we will be going directly against the principle of lawfulness,” said Atty. Ipac.

He cited as an example an actual occurrence last year where a municipality just outside Metro Manila created a health tracking app which was mandatory for all its residents and workers to download and register. Residents were not allowed to go out of their homes, go to work, or resume business operations otherwise.

“The first problem here is that no privacy impact assessment was made. Consent was supposedly the basis for processing of the personal information. Failure to register however, had punitive or prejudicial consequences. So, it becomes questionable whether consent was the basis because consent should be freely and voluntarily given.”

Aside from sharing the basic principles of data privacy, Atty. Ipac also shared the laws related to the sharing and disclosing of data, in light of the pandemic. He also discussed the concept of e-health which includes telemedicine, wellness webinars, nutrition counseling and health monitoring apps, and how the data privacy principles may be applied.

Atty. Ipac is a Certified Information Privacy Manager by the International Association of Privacy Professionals and is a member of DivinaLaw’s Data Privacy team.