By Tony M. Maghirang, August 12 2018; Manila Times


Image Credit to Department of Information and Communications Technology

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) gathered various stakeholders and resource persons to the National Digital Consumer Conference to addresses challenges to the protection of the rights and welfare of digital Filipino consumers.

A major highlight of in the two- day consultation held in Makati City from July 26 to 27, 2018 is a proposal to establish a digital consumer welfare and protection body that will act on consumer concerns relating to telco services.

According to Asst. Sec. Carlos Caliwara, the proposal is consistent with the DICT’s mandate to ensure and protect the rights and welfare of consumers and business users in ICT- related matters. The proposed body will handle issues and complaints concerning such pressing issues as unexplained disappearance of prepaid loads, dropped calls, data breaches, and cyberattacks on mobile users.

During the conference, Asec. Caliwara also discussed the administrative procedures on addressing consumer issues and concerns pertaining to the telecommunications industry and the speedy resolution of complaints.

Undersecretary Ruth Castelo of DTI’s Consumer Protection Group suggested that the two- decade- old Consumer Act of the Philippines be amended to be more relevant to the present and emerging welfare issues of the Filipino consumer in the digital age. She also discussed the Department’s national online Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system that will serve as a web- based redress mechanism to help mediate and adjudicate in the resolution of consumer complaints, including those involving online transactions.

With the advent of free Wi- Fi, Lawrence A. Pagal, project managerDelivery, Free Wi- Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project, focused on the protection against cybercrime. For every possible threat, he offered current solutions and future considerations i response to the perceived risks.

For instance, if the threat involves access point-based vulnerabilities, Pagal recommended regular patching of the firmware of devices and user authentication using the Philippine Public Key infrastructure, among others. For future considerations, he advised the use of preregistered accounts for additional user accountability and tracking, and mandatory integrated network layer and application layer firewall.

Genalyn Macalinao, project lead of DICT’s Cybersecurity Policy, gave an overview of the country’s cybersecurity landscape and the implementation of the national cybersecurity plan.

Key imperatives under the cybersecurity plan, she said, are separate initiatives for the protection of critical info- structure, government networks, businesses and supply chains, and individuals. Cybersecurity assessment and compliance programs are directed to safeguard critical info- structure. Businesses will be assisted through a national common criteria evaluation and certification program while a cybersecurity education campaign program has been developed for individuals.

Organized by the DICT, the first National Digital Consumer Conference drew inputs from the participants to a national policy and plan of action for a more responsive, more efficient, and smarter approach in digital consumer protection.