SEN. Bam Aquino has identified three threats to the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in our country: artificial intelligence; economic policy of source countries; and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN). As chairman of the Senate’s committee on science and technology, Aquino moved to probe these threats. He should add another one to the list: the threat posed by the likes of Maria Josephina Verginia Natural Lauria (a.k.a. Jover Laurio) to the integrity of the BPO industry.
The Inquirer’s 2017 Filipino of the Year, Jover Laurio formerly worked at the Philippine BPO office of Credit Corp Group, Australia’s largest company specializing in debt purchase and debt collection, as a CRM specialist. According to Laurio’s LinkedIn profile, she started working there in 2011. She resigned recently.
On May 29, 2016, Laurio, a campaign volunteer of the Liberal Party, had the following tweeter conversation with a Filipino blogger who goes by the name benign0 of Get Real Philippines. Benign0 is an Australian resident and a known critic of the Aquino administration and the Liberal Party.
missjover: @benigno Bat pala umalis kayo sa J______? Malayo sa work? Sabagay ok yung nalipatan niya, kasi may garage kayong sarili.
benign0: @missjover Tsk tsk…Secondhand info in the hands of small minds…
missjover: @benign0 hahaha secondhand info? You sure? Hahaha I can give the exact one if you want.
I wrote an open letter about this in my Facebook page (@forthemotherlandph). In response, without denying the threat, Laurio gave the lame defense that she “never encountered an account named Benigno.” Certainly, she wouldn’t encounter the name “benign0” as it’s a pseudonym. However, benign0’s real name was already known, as he had been outed earlier by Liberal Party supporters, so Laurio could have just easily accessed his information from the Credit Corp Group’s database.
Laurio further asked me what information she released and what rule did she breach. Well, she knew where benign0 lived before, where he moved, and even the detail that his new house had a garage! How could she have known that?
Narrating what happened in May 2016, benign0 wrote in his blog about the implications of Laurio’s actions:
“[Laurio] had somehow obtained about [sic]my private residence and even telephone number to issue threats against me. Indeed, the information seems to have been shared with many of her followers and allies in social media as the information was presented to me as part of veiled threats many times over the years.”
Perhaps it wasn’t clear to Laurio that what she did to benign0 compromised the integrity of Credit Corp Group by simply threatening an Australian resident that she would release his “exact” info while she had access to confidential information of Australian residents!
On March 14, I wrote an open letter to Credit Corp Group, asking them to investigate a possible breach committed by their former employer. The open letter got viral fast. Within hours, Adam Carpenter, the head of Legal and Compliance Credit Corp. Group, contacted me.
“Good afternoon Sass, It has been brought to our attention that you have recently made some posts on social media in relation to an alleged privacy breach by a former Credit Corp employee. Credit Corp takes its obligations under the Privacy Act seriously and it is our practice to robustly investigate any allegations of misconduct. It appears from the content of your post, that you may have some information that would assist us in investigating the matter.”
Immediately, I connected Mr. Carpenter to the person behind benign0. I applaud Credit Corp Group’s prompt action. What is needed now is for Aquino to take parallel action to save the integrity of the BPO industry from the likes of Laurio, who could use their access to confidential information to threaten their political opponents.
What Laurio did to benign0 is the very definition of weaponization of information. It’s political blackmail using confidential information she was entrusted by Credit Corp Group to treat with the highest standard of confidentiality. The mere fact that she was threatening an Australian resident that she would release his “exact” information while she had access to confidential information of Australian residents is already alarming. The threat itself compromised the integrity of Credit Corp Group.
What Laurio did was demonstrate how the BPOs’ access to confidential information could be used as a leverage against political opponents. Will Aquino have the political will to investigate the full implications for the BPO industry of the nefarious act of one of their campaign volunteers? If Credit Corp Group takes the issue seriously to warrant an investigation, shouldn’t Aquino move to take action to address this threat?