How much passport data lost? DFA still probing, says Locsin


Posted at Jan 17 2019 08:19 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2019 11:50 AM

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MANILA - Authorities will look into how much passport data was supposedly lost when the government parted ways with a private contractor, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said Thursday. 

"We will see how much was lost. There will be forensic analysis. Pero for sure, mayroong nawala (but for sure, something was lost)," he told radio DZMM.

Locsin claimed over the weekend that an outsourced passport maker "took all the data" when its contract terminated, forcing the Department of Foreign Affairs to "rebuild" its database for passports issued before 2010. 

Under the Arroyo administration, machine readable passports (MRP) were printed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which tapped French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare to build a personalized system, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay earlier said. 

The succeeding Aquino government shifted to e-passports, the contract for the printing of which was bagged by state-run firm APO Production Unit Inc, he said. 

Oberthur's system, however, was not compatible with that of APO's private subcontractor, United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC), which prevented the transfer of passport data, said Yasay. 

The French firm, he added, did not make off with the passport data because it had no copy of this government information. 

Locsin, in a tweet on Monday, conceded that passport data "is not run-away-able but made inaccessible." 

He also said Oberthur will not compromise the country's security despite supposedly making the data inaccessible. 

Locsin signed Wednesday an order removing birth certificates as a required document to renew one's passport.

Holders of MRPs issued until 2009 were earlier required to submit birth certificates when applying for renewal since the DFA "no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied." 

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is investigating the alleged data security breach. Two senators have also called for a legislative inquiry into the issue.