The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and an attached agency, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), are using privately-owned Internet domains to provide services to millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), putting at risk the private data of workers and in violation of the government’s Internet domain policy, according to a public interest group.
The Lilac Center for Public Interest (Lilac Center) on Wednesday called on the DoLE to be transparent by making public the individual/s under whose name/s the “bmonline.ph” and “idole.ph” are registered.
The bmonline.ph is the Internet site of the Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing Center, which facilitates the issuance of overseas employment certificates (OECs) to returning OFWs, while the https.idole.ph is the Internet portal of the controversial OFW ID card. Both Internet portals collect, access, use, disclose or process private OFW data or information.
DoLE Information and Publication Service Director Raul Francia said the labor department and the POEA would come up with a statement on the allegations of Lilac Center.
“The matter has been forwarded to the attention of Undersecretary and concurrent POEA OIC Bernard Olalia and Undersecretary Dominador Say. We are still waiting for their explanations,” Francia told The Manila Times.
Lilac Center president Nicon Fameronag pointed out that by their domain names, both Internet addresses show that they were for commercial use even as he warned OFWs that their privacy might be compromised when using the two portals.
“By their domain names, .ph shows it is for commercial use and its registrar is a private businessman, hence, for profit, while the .gov.ph domain is solely for registration of Philippine government agencies,” he said.
The government’s Internet domain names policy requires subsidiaries, attached agencies and non-autonomous
components of top-level entities to register their domain names under .gov.ph. They are not eligible to register separately,” Fameronag said.
The .gov.ph domain is delegated from the root authority to the Department of Science and Technology’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI).
On the other hand, Fameronag noted, the .ph domain name is administered by dotPH Domains Inc., owned by businessman José Emmanuel “Joel” Disini, chief executive officer. This company also holds and maintains the database of domain names .com.ph, .net.ph, and .org.ph.
This being the case, he said, whoever owns the domain names bmonline.ph and idole.ph could have access to valuable private data of five million or more OFWs.
“Without us knowing who have access to sensitive OFW data and what security guarantees there are for their processing, OFWs face the very real danger of their personal information being stolen or worse, used for sinister purposes,” Fameronag explained.