The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has recommended criminal charges against executives of three online lending companies for allegedly shaming their borrowers in public – a violation of the Data Privacy Act punishable by up to seven years in prison and up to P5 million in fines.

Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro on Friday released fact-finding reports on Fast Cash Global Lending, Inc., Unipeso Lending Company, Inc., and Fynamics Lending Inc., recommending prosecution.

“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,” he said. 

In a statement, the NPC said Fast Cash Global Lending, Inc., which operates Fast Cash online app, faced 166 complaints as of July 31. Charges were filed before the NPC against directors and board members, which the government agency identified as follows: Kellon De Jesus Manalastas, Tiancai Huang, John Christian P. Sia, Jovy Co Ting, and Zichao Su.

Unipeso Lending Company, Inc., which operates the Cashlending online app, had 138 complaints. Charged before the NPC were executives Haolong Li, Guanqun Luo, Flordeluna Rosell, Rizza Mae Lorilla, and Renyvic Duquiatan.

Fynamics Lending Inc., which operates PondoPeso online app, had 133 complaints. Charges were filed with the NPC against Meng Li, Changjin Wang, Kwinnie Mae Fianza, Jacquielyn Chua Garrido, Helen Joy Amican de Luna, and Bernard B. Salvacion, Jr.

“The fact-finding reports gave the Commission sufficient grounds to establish that the three lending 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 NPC said.

Liboro told reporters: “The public shaming they 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 one thousand pesos.”

The lending company executives were given 10 days to answer the complaints.

Aside from criminal prosecution, the NPC fact-finding team has also recommended issuing a temporary or permanent ban on the processing of personal data by the lending firms.

“We would like to caution the people on downloading mobiles applications, particularly online lending application.  Please read the terms and conditions carefully, for it may include dangerous permissions such as access to your live location, phone books and social media account, and even camera control.  Let us be responsible for our safety and the protection of our personal data,” Liboro said.

The NPC said it would ask Google Play Store to take down the three apps.

From July 6, 2018, to July 31, 2019, the NPC received a total of 689 complaints against several online lending applications, accounting for 55 percent of total complaints received. (