By Shiela Bertillo
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has ordered the immediate takedown of four online lending apps (OLAs), JuanHand, Pesopop, CashJeep, and Lemon Loan to protect the data privacy rights of borrowers. The lending apps are now being probed for their alleged unauthorized and “excessive” use of borrowers’ personal data.
The Commission issued the orders based on the findings of the NPC’s Complaints and Investigation Division (CID) which examined the apps and found that these violated the principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality in the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and the NPC issuance on the Processing of Personal Data for Loan-Related Transactions (NPC Circular No. 20-01).
The NPC reported on Wednesday that it received numerous complaints against these apps for unauthorized use of personal data that resulted in harassment and shaming of borrowers and are currently being investigated for violations of the Data Privacy Act and other NPC issuances.
According to the privacy regulator, the apps have gained access to “almost every data” in the borrowers’ mobile devices, including contacts and social media data, that are excessive and may be weaponized to harass and shame delinquent borrowers before persons in their mobile devices’ contact list to collect debts.
The lenders can also collect details from third parties, such as employers, utilities, government agencies, remittance companies, and insurance and financial services providers, the NPC added.
“In particular, JuanHand, for example, has an invasive manner of using personal data,” it said. “It can read a borrower’s calendar of events and confidential information, adds, and modify calendar events, and send emails to contacts without the borrower’s knowledge.” NPC stated.
Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said the orders banning the four apps “are crucial to prevent serious privacy risks and protect and preserve the privacy rights of data subjects.”
“These online lending apps raised many red flags and the companies operating these apps demonstrate problematic data actions that expose borrowers to serious privacy risks and harms,” Commissioner Liboro added.
The NPC added these companies were given the opportunity to reply to its findings.
Without specifying, it said two did not file position papers, while the other two failed to convince the commission on why it should not impose the ban.
The NPC has also given orders to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to take down the apps from the internet and to Google LLC to remove them from the Play Store.
The ban shall remain in effect until lifted by the Commission.
The NPC said it is also looking into more than 200 other online lending apps available for download and will issue orders and other actions based on investigation results.
This article is published on BitPinas: National Privacy Commission Orders Immediate Takedown of Four Online Lending Apps