Data privacy raised on NCAP arguments

The Supreme Court on Tuesday raised concerns on data privacy during the resumption of the oral arguments in petitions seeking to invalidate the no-contact apprehension policy or NCAP against erring motorists.

Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao questioned Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra — who was representing the Land Transportation Office and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority — on how the LTO protects personal data.

Guevarra responded that the memoranda of understanding exist between the local government units implementing the NCAP and the LTO regarding access to data stored by the agency.

“Only authorized persons coming from the local government units may have direct access to the LTO database. These are covered by confidentiality provisions in the memoranda of agreements between the local government unit-concerned and the LTO,” Guevarra said.

The Associate Justice also inquired whether there is a section in the LTO registration procedure that requires the registrant’s consent before the data is forwarded to the LGUs, to which Guevarra responded that it was “unnecessary and not required,” citing the Data Privacy Act.

“I think the matter of consent is not really a requirement because this is exactly one of the exceptions under the Data Privacy Act where the processing of personal information is required in the performance of the functions of public authorities. This is carved out (of) the requirements, from the general principles of the Data Privacy Act,” Guevarra said.

“In other words, even without the consent of the person concerned, because the information will be processed for the discharge of a public function, consent is actually unnecessary and not required,” he added.

Guevarra also said they could only assume — based on the computerized data available at the LTO — that accurate information about the registered owner of a vehicle apprehended would be forwarded by the LTO to the LGUs.

To recall, Atty. Juman Paa in August last year urged the Supreme Court to declare the NCAP unconstitutional and issue a temporary restraining order against Manila City Ordinance 8676, which covers the policy.

Paa claimed in his petition that there was a clear violation of his privacy when he accessed his traffic violations by entering his license plate number on the NCAP website of the City of Manila.

Transport organizations Kapit, Pasang Masda, Altodap, and the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations also filed a petition against local ordinances related to the NCAP in five cities in Metro Manila: Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa, and Parañaque, thus the SC then issued a TRO on the implementation of the policy.

The SC was urged by Guevarra to lift the TRO during the first day of oral arguments on the three petitions last December.

Guevarra said the transport groups failed to allege actual or threatened injury, while Paa’s claims arose from his own violation of traffic rules.

The Solgen also stressed that the NCAP is one of the solutions to the worsening traffic problem, which is directly tied to the rising number of vehicles in Metro Manila.

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