NPC polls, orders for four online lending apps withdrawn due to data privacy concerns

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 25) – The National Commission for the Protection of Privacy has ordered the immediate removal of four online lending applications that are currently under review for their alleged unauthorized and “excessive” use of borrowers’ personal data.

The NPC said on Wednesday it had received numerous complaints against JuanHand, Lemon Loan, CashJeep and Pesopop, who it said collected personal and sensitive information without the free and informed consent of their users.

The four are currently under investigation for violations of data protection law and other provisions of the NPC.

According to the privacy watchdog, apps have gained access to “virtually all data” on their users’ mobile devices, which “can be used as a weapon to harass and shame delinquent borrowers” in order to recover their funds. debts.

He said these platforms can obtain sensitive personal data, locations, photos, media files, emails, contact lists and information from social media sites.

Lenders can also collect information from third parties, such as employers, utilities, government agencies, money transfer companies, and insurance and financial service providers, the AFN added.

“In particular, JuanHand, for example, uses personal data in an invasive way,” he said. “It can read a borrower’s calendar of events and confidential information, add and edit calendar events, and send emails to contacts without the borrower’s knowledge. “

The operators of the applications – Wefund Lending Corporation, Joywin Lending Investor Inc., Cash8 Lending Corporation and Populus Lending Corporation – have already been ordered to stop processing their users’ personal data.

The NPC added that these companies had been given an opportunity to respond to its findings.

Without specifying it, he said two had not filed a position paper, while the other two failed to convince the commission of why it should not impose the ban.

It also provided copies of the take down orders to both the National Telecommunications Commission and Google LLC for removing apps from the internet and the Google Play Store.

Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said these measures are necessary to prevent serious privacy risks and protect the rights of data subjects.

“These online lending applications have raised many red flags and the companies that operate these applications are presenting problematic data actions that expose borrowers to serious privacy risks and harms,” said Liboro.

According to Google statistics, JuanHand has been downloaded over a million times. Lemon Loan and Pesopop, on the other hand, have each been downloaded over 500,000 times, while CashJeep, over 100,000 times.

The AFN said it is also reviewing more than 200 other online lending apps available for download and will issue orders and other actions based on the results of the investigation.

CNN Philippines is trying to reach out to companies that operate the four apps for comment.

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David A. Albanese