Comelec faces complaint over voters' data leak

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Statistician Jose Ramon Albert filed a complaint on Friday against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for allegedly failing to protect the personal identity information of over 50 million registered voters.

As a statistician, Albert deals with sensitive information every day, and is used to managing huge amounts of data. This is why he says he feels strongly against the leak of sensitive personal information of at least 54 million registered voters when its website was hacked last March 27.

The sensitive data of at least 54 million registered Filipino voters, including 1.3 million passport numbers of Filipinos overseas and 15.8 million records of fingerprints, were compromised following the hacking of the Comelec website.

In the complaint he filed a complaint before the National Privacy Commission, Albert demanded a detailed explanation of the data leak from the Comelec. He wants the poll body to specify all the information that was stolen from its website, and what it will do to fix the problems resulting from that.

"The issue is that information, which is private, has now been leaked and it's possibly going to be used for various kinds of criminal activities," Albert said.

He said the least the Comelec can do is tell every registered voter how to guard against identity theft.

Albert also wants the Comelec to identify the people in charge of its website and database to hold them accountable for failing to prevent the data breach.

His lawyer said the Comelec may have violated the data privacy law, saying the poll body should not have downplayed the incident.

"Under the law, they’re supposed to be forthright, to be honest to us, to the voters, to people affected, about what happened," said Romel Bagares of Centerlaw, a human rights advocacy group of lawyers.

Albert and Bagares said they are also considering criminal charges against the Comelec over the data breach.

In its defense, the Comelec says it is the victim, not the culprit.

"Hacking is something all systems are vulnerable to. It’s unfair to say that just the failure to prevent hacking is a violation of law," said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

The National Bureau of Investigation has caught at least two suspected hackers.

The Comelec is also conducting its own investigation. It has also beefed up the security of its website and database. But Albert said it's too late.