Can passport holders be assured of protection after data stolen? Locsin: 'I don't know'

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2019 05:06 PM | Updated as of Jan 12 2019 06:21 PM

MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday could not say if personal information taken by a passport production contractor terminated by government were safe, as his revelation drew concerns over the stolen data. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier admitted that a "pissed" contractor who was allegedly unduly terminated "made off" with data from passports.

Responding to a netizen's question on the protection of their data, Locsin said: "How can we be sure? I don't know."

"Why you guys who understand data acquisition and protection should keep up the attacks," he said.

The DFA chief has yet to name the contractor involved in the incident but described it as a "most respectable" "French" firm. He has not responded to requests for further comment. 

The issue came to light after Locsin responded to online questions about why the DFA was asking some passport renewal applicants to submit their birth certificates.

DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said holders of old passports- those issued until 2009 including the brown, green, and maroon machine-readable passports- were required to submit birth certificates when applying for renewal. 

He said this was necessary as "we need to capture and store the document in our database as we no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied," he said. 

Cato said holders of passports issued after 2009 do not need to submit their birth certificates upon renewal "as the digital copy of said document has already been captured and stored in our database," he told ABS-CBN News.