As Philippine cities implement smart city initiatives, data security and privacy issues have become major challenges that require effective countermeasures.

This was pointed out by Atty. Rainier Anthony M. Milanes, chief of the National Privacy Commission’s (NPC) Compliance and Monitoring Division, during a webinar recently organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In particular, Milanes said that creating smart applications may pose security and privacy problems.

“Due to the vulnerabilities commonly existing in each layer of a smart system, it is very important that our local government units (LGUs) protect personal and sensitive information that they process,” Milanes noted.

To do this, he identified measures that LGUs could take to protect the data of their constituents.

One is to create an office or department to be headed by a data protection officer and focused on ensuring data privacy and information security. This office, he added, may implement a privacy management program that includes the regular conduct of privacy impact assessments on data processing systems.

Another is to have a dedicated response team for personal data breaches and other similar issues.

Milanes also emphasized developing “more advanced protection models and frameworks”. He also urged LGUs to follow the “privacy by design or privacy by default approach” in establishing data processing systems.

“Privacy protection should form part of the initial project development. It should not be a consideration after a personal data breach has already occurred,” he added.

Meanwhile, Milanes asked LGUs to work with the NPC in the implementation of their smart city initiatives.

“We need to erase the misconception that the Data Privacy Act or the National Privacy Commission (as your privacy regulator) is a roadblock to innovation,” Milanes said, adding that working with the NPC is the next step for LGUs to sustain a strong implementation of technology in their smart cities.

He also reminded LGUs that “adherence to data privacy principles shows accountability and builds trust.” This will result in gaining the support of their constituents, which is “essential in sustaining smart cities”.

You may watch the webinar at or

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