Online lending execs face charges for shaming users, data privacy violations

Rappler.com
The National Privacy Commission says these lending firms targeted 'the privacy of persons, practically making a profit out of people's fear of losing face and dignity'

MANILA, Philippines – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) formally charged executives of online lending apps which allegedly publicly harassed and shamed borrowers who failed to pay their balances on time.

Charged were the following:

  • Fynamics Lending Incorporated and its officers Meng Li, Changjin Wang, Kwinnie Mae Fianza, Jacquielyn Chua Garrido, Helen Joy Amican de Luna, and Bernard Salvacion Jr operating PondoPeso Online Lending Application

  • Unipeso Lending Company and its Haolong Li, Guanqun Luo, Flordeluna Rosell, Rizza Mae Lorilla, and Renyvic Duquitan operating Cashlending Online Application

  • Fcash Global Lending Incorporated and its officers Kellon de Jesus Manalastas, Tiancai Huang, John Christian Sia, Jovy Co Ting, and Zichao Su operating Fast Cash Online Lending Application

The charged executives could face imprisonment of up to 7 years and fines of not more than P5 million under the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA). The commission found the board members to have violated the following sections of the DPA:

  • Section 25 or the Unauthorized Processing of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information
  • Section 28 or the Processing of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information for Unauthorized Purposes
  • Section 31 or Malicious Disclosure
  • Section 32 or Unauthorized Disclosure

The NPC found that the companies “have not complied with legal requirements for processing personal data; failed to adhere to the principles of transparency, legitimate purpose and proportionality; and committed unauthorized processing; processing for unauthorized purpose; malicious disclosure; and unauthorized disclosure.” 

The commission announced the beginning of its hearings in May.

The investigations were spurred by continuous complaints sent to the NPC from users of lending apps. From July 6, 2018, to July 31, 2019, the NPC reported receiving a total of 689 complaints against these apps, comprising around 55% of the total complaints filed with the NPC.

“The public shaming [the apps] carried out has caused anxiety, depression; some have even lost jobs and feel they became unemployable, that their reputation and future was put in jeopardy. The permanence of these damages is disproportionate to the mere delinquency in paying debts, sometimes as low as P1,000,” NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro said.

The NPC’s fact-finding team has also recommended issuing a temporary or permanent ban on the processing of personal data by the lending firms. It also said that it seeks to have the apps removed from the Google Play Store. 

“The investigation determined that their business practice specifically targets the privacy of persons, practically making a profit out of people’s fear of losing face and dignity. These unethical practices simply have no place in a civilized society and must stop,” said Liboro. – Rappler.com