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PSA ends Teleserv deal over data breach complaints

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:15 AM January 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has terminated its agreement with online and phone services provider Pilipinas Teleserv Inc., which it blamed for two complaints of data privacy breach before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the PSA ended Teleserv’s Helpline Plus service on Dec. 20 after they found that the company was responsible for the two cases now pending before the NTC but the PSA would continue to deliver civil registry documents online through its in-house Serbilis.

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Mapa said that while Serbilis had key performance indicators to measure the effectivity of its services, Teleserv lacked such metrics and unnecessarily exposed private citizens’ data to third parties when Teleserv allowed applications for civil registry documents to be coursed through social media, such as Facebook, and e-commerce sites, such as Sulit and Lazada.

“When we stopped [the deal with Teleserv], the Facebook accounts announced they will no longer accept [applications for civil registry documents], so it validates that their control is weaker than ours,” Mapa said. “We cannot have that data privacy breach because we (the PSA) are in the national ID system and that is our commitment.”

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The contract with Teleserv was signed by former National Statistics Office administrator Tomas Africa. Two succeeding national statisticians renewed the agreement despite questions on the services deal, such as redundancy with PSA’s in-house Serbilis.

However, the PSA allowed pending applications of Teleserv’s clients processed until Jan. 8 to 9, Mapa said.

Of the 22.4 million documents processed by the PSA last year, the applications coursed online, mainly through Teleserv, accounted for only 6.5 percent of the total, Mapa said.

In the past, Teleserv received 5,000 to 6,000 requests a day, while Serbilis got 1,500 to 2000. After the agreement with Teleserv ended, Serbilis got 5,500 to 6,000 requests daily—“so basically, customers shifted,” he said.

While the PSA’s online services were already available to the public, most Filipinos—93.5 percent of customers in 2019—still preferred to obtain their documents from outlets since it was cheaper at only P155 per copy, Mapa said. INQ

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TAGS: data, data breach, Data privacy, National Telecommunications Commission, NTC, Philippine statistics authority, Pilipinas Teleserv Inc., PSA, Serbilis
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