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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » Disclosure of Sensitive Information

Disclosure of Sensitive Information

A reader sent me the following email, and I thought it would be good to share it here. My response is likewise published below.


Just out of curiousity and with due respect, does the Phil government allow its employees to discuss issues pertinent to their line of work in public forums such as blogs? Is there no conflict of interest implications in such an action? Is the government not concerned with disclosure of confidential or restricted information?

My response:


Thanks for the concern. While it may appear otherwise, I have not, in any way and to the best of my knowledge, disclosed sensitive information (whether official or otherwise) on matters pertaining to issues that affect the Philippine government. I do agree that there is a conflict of interest in disclosing to the public information that may be deemed confidential or sensitive in nature, in particular those that have security implications.

Per my review of relevant documentation (Philippine laws, rules, regulations), I have not encountered provisions explicitly prohibiting civil servants (in particular in my agency) from disclosing information to the public, although it is to my understanding that it is best to have such an arrangement, even if implicit in nature. Perhaps we should also consider that it is in the interest of the public for Government transactions to be transparent, and for government officials (and government itself, ultimately) to be accountable for their actions.

I appreciate your expressing your concern on this matter. I have always tried to exercise prudence in publishing matters that may involve controversy. I try not to cross the thin line separating responsible and irresponsible disclosure of information. To illustrate, I am part of a technical group that facilitates the evaluation and approval of major capital projects (both foreign- and private-sector-assisted), and I have long itched to discuss issues pertaining to these in my blog. But I always remind myself that I have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of such information, and in turn not compromise my agency.

Lastly, you may wish to note that I have tendered my resignation from government service effective the 21st of February. I am moving to the private sector (an ICT firm) after an almost three-year stint as an Economic Development Specialist.

I hope this email has been helpful. =)

Best regards.

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an interesting side note - in the IT industry it's common for western employees to post on blogs and online forums and gossip about industry shake-ups and tech news. Most will have their aliases but I believe some have been fired from their own companies if the info is too sensitive :-) Is it the governemnt to dictate that? It seems it's the private enterprise's decision to file suit against such people. I wonder if there is a case that the federal govt was the one that filed a case considering it a civil suit. At best I think it is but an administrative lapse that is good enough for firing :P

Posted by Blogger Jdavies on Thursday, January 20, 2005 10:03:00 PM  

I am sorry to hear your leaving NEDA. Our government agencies needs more intelligent and analytic minds such yourself working to raise the standard of service. Ironically, it seems working in a public service is a sort of luxury in our country -- you want to do it, but can't really afford to. In any case, good luck in your new career.

Posted by Blogger Carlo on Friday, February 04, 2005 6:20:00 PM  

Companies have created what they call the public affairs dept to ensure that only approved information are published in the media. This is to protect the company from disclosure of confidential and/or sensitive information.

I'd be very wary of dicussing over the web things that I do at work even if it does not infringe the interests of my company. I am never a spokesman for my company so I should be extra careful of mentioning my company and things that I do for it over the airwaves.
Jardine Davies is right that many companies prohibit their staff from discussing work related stuff over the the media or the net for that matter. It is necessary to protect the company and staff and nothing more.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on Thursday, February 24, 2005 3:26:00 AM  

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