DATA PROTECTION AND ONLINE PROFILING by Rachel Granates

Data Privacy became one of the big issues that countries around the world have been trying to address. Privacy advocates in the Philippines demanded for stringent privacy laws and the government responded. Because of that, we have now the Data Privacy of 2012 (DPA) which is being implemented by the National Privacy Commission (NPC). 

But you may ask, “Why is privacy important and how does it affect me personally?” Let’s look at it in terms Online Profiling. It is very popular in this time of digital world. 

According to The Gurus in one of their articles, they describe Online Profiling as Psychological Targeting. Psychological Targeting is inferring to people’s psychological profiles from their posts, pictures, tweets, likes, and purchases. These data are bundled together and are used to create a “profile” of the individual. 

At first, this seems harmless, as it is used for beneficial purposes such as providing recommendations on Netflix, services, your kind of beauty products and clothing or helping you decide what you want to eat. Not until the past decades have certain controllers become aware of how profiling can be weaponized and be used maliciously. 

Cambridge Analytica provided great insight into how organizations are building profiles of individuals and targeting with specific advertisements to further influence elections, government political issues and more. Weaponized profiling is interfering in people’s mind, perspectives and life decisions. 

Under the DPA, processing of personal data has to comply with the principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality and with the lawful criteria for processing. In relation to profiling, transparency requires that the data subject has to be notified if his data is being processed for such activity. Legitimate purpose demands that the reason for profiling, which must not be against the law, public policy or public order, has to be made known to the data subject. Proportionality provides that the data to be processed has to be relevant and not excessive in relation to the declared purpose. As regards the lawful criteria for processing, profiling requires the consent of the data subject. In the absence of consent of the data subject, or other authorized grounds for processing, the data subject can exercise his right to object. If these requirements are not complied with, profiling will amount to violation of privacy.

Therefore, in order to prevent malicious profiling which can lead to unnecessary surveillance, personal data has to be processed lawfully to avoid intrusion to individuals’ right to privacy. Unless the data subject would ask for suggestions, nobody wants any intervention in terms of making personal choices. Profiling or psychological targeting, although not generally illegal, has to conducted within the bounds of the law. Individuals have the right to be let alone, to control their own data and to exercise privacy rights which are protected by law. 

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