Cybercrime law expert: Threats to data privacy 'abstract, dangerous'

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National Privacy Commission Complaints and Investigations Division chief Kiko Acero (left) and cybercrime law expert JJ Disini (right).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) - A cybercrime law expert on Thursday said the main problem with data privacy is that people don't see the actual threat that comes with it.

"The truth is that people don't really understand threats to their privacy because it's so abstract. So you know that it's happening, but because it doesn't present itself to you, you don't see the threat," cybercrime law expert JJ Disini told CNN Philippines' On The Record.

He added data privacy violations do not present themselves directly, so many users could be vulnerable to certain threats.

"The most dangerous thing about data privacy violations is that you'll never know it's happening to you, because the data will be used against you," Disini said.

Meanwhile, National Privacy Commission (NPC) Complaints and Investigations Division chief Kiko Acero said people are now more vigilant of the data they share online.

"People are now more aware of the role that data plays in their lives, and that's a good thing. People can do things with it, and people understand that if people have their data, then they have control over them," said.

Acero added a Social Weather Station survey showed 80 percent of the respondents said privacy is important.

He added, however, consumers still have to be more vigilant especially when doing online transactions.

"The awareness is there, especially with companies who are now more aware of how they handle data, now they're more compliant, I guess," Acero said.

This issue comes in light of a scandal hounding social networking site Facebook, after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, reportedly accessed information from about 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg has testified before the two houses of the U.S. Congress to answer looming questions on his company's terms on data privacy.

The social network, which has about 2.13 billion active monthly users worldwide as of December 2017, has been notifying users that their information was likely shared with the data firm.

Facebook earlier said Cambridge Analytica obtained data from about 1.1 million Filipino users.

Acero said the NPC has been receiving complaints regarding the issue. He added the commission is already studying the issue, and has been coordinating with data privacy commissions from Singapore.

MalacaƱang has also said Cambridge Analytica had no hand in President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign during the 2016 national elections.