MAKATI CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Privacy Commission (NPC), and the United States Federal Trade Commission (US FTC) successfully conducted a five (5)-day workshop on Emerging Technological Sector Issues in Consumer Protection and Privacy Investigations and Enforcement on 07-11 August 2023 at Ascott Hotel, Makati City.

With additional support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Strengthening Private Enterprise to the Digital Economy (SPEED), this workshop brought together esteemed experts from the US FTC, DTI, and NPC. It served as a platform for in-depth discussions on various pressing topics, including the deceptive practices known as dark patterns, generative artificial intelligence, online investigation tools and techniques, and the prevalence of multilevel marketing/pyramiding schemes.

During the opening ceremony, DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary, Atty. Ruth B. Castelo, underscored “As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it has become imperative to safeguard the consumers’ personal information and ensure their confidence in digital transactions and interactions. Throughout this 5-day workshop, we have the privilege of learning from a roster of experts and speakers in the field of consumer protection and data privacy, especially on the topics of tech development, pyramid schemes, dark patterns, and artificial intelligence.”

Meanwhile, USAID Philippines Acting Mission Director Jeff Goebel said, “In our efforts, we must not lose sight of the core participants who drive the digital ecosystem – the consumers themselves. For any digital economy to flourish and be sustainable, it is important that consumers have trust in the integrity and fairness of digital markets.  USAID is eager to contribute and support initiatives that would foster a safe and fair digital marketplace, empowering consumers while nurturing economic growth.” The NPC Chief of Policy Division, Atty. Ivy Grace T. Villasoto, emphasized that “Our ability to harness the potential of emerging technology must go hand in hand with our commitment to safeguarding and sustaining the trust of our data subjects. Personal data breaches, privacy violations, and unauthorized personal data processing activities can undermine the trust gained and progress we have made so far. Hence, it is paramount that we are equipped to effectively investigate and take the necessary enforcement actions against any violations that may happen.”

L-R: DTI CARAGA OIC-Assistant Regional Director, Atty. Samuel Gallardo, FTC Department of Litigation Technology & Analysis Assistant Director, Hugh Huettner, FTC Counsel for International Affairs, Michael Panzera, USAID Acting Deputy Mission Director, Jeff Goebel, DTI CPG Undersecretary, Atty. Ruth B. Catselo, FTC Staff Attorney of the Division of Marketing Practices, Atty. Claire Wack, and NPC Chief of Policy Development Division of the Privacy Policy Office, Atty. Ivy Grace T. Villasoto.

Throughout the 5-day workshop, FTC experts shed light on the prevalence and impact of dark patterns, emerging trends in native advertising and influencer campaigns, and greenwashing. Speakers also discussed how they dealt with unfair and deceptive privacy and security practices by companies that share personal information with third-party providers. In addition, the workshop explored potential deceptive trade practices related to products and services using machine learning and similar technologies. During one of the sessions, the speaker provided an informative overview of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This act empowers parents by granting them control over the type of information that websites collect from their children. Participants had the opportunity to engage with FTC experts who shared their extensive knowledge and expertise on these critical topics.

The presenters from the NPC and DTI emphasized their efforts and initiatives to ensure consumer protection and privacy in the country. The NPC provided updates on the draft guidelines regarding Deceptive Design Patterns, and discussed the complaints received against online lending applications. The DTI presented e-commerce policies, including the proposed Revision of the Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, and the proposed Internet Transactions Act. The DTI also shared its technology-based consumer projects, such as e-Presyo, an online price monitoring system that allows consumers to check the prevailing prices of Basic Necessities and Prime Commodities (BNPCs), and the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) Verification Mobile Application, which enables the public to verify the authenticity of the ICC quality seal attached to imported products.

On the final day of the hybrid workshop, speakers from the US FTC discussed how to better protect consumers from the risks posed by new technologies through enhanced collaboration among regulators, the tech sector, and businesses. During the FTC panel discussions, industry representatives addressed the significance of transparency and the current challenges associated with online ratings and reviews. They also discussed the recommended principles for the responsible use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) concerning consumers. Everyone is encouraged to follow DTI’s Consumer Care official social media accounts for more information. For consumer-related concerns and queries, send an email to or call the One-DTI (1-384) Hotline. ♦

Date of release: 05 September 2023