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The Permanent Working Group on Legislative Development of the Ibero American Data Protection Network, gathered in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (May 2006), considered that one of its most important tasks would be to draft the “Suggestions for contributing to the legislative initiatives related to Data Protection in the Ibero American community”. Such suggestions were dully drafted during the last meeting that on the subject was held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, during this current month.
After indicating how most of the countries in the region do recognize, at a constitutional or jurisprudential level, the existence of the right to protect one’s personal data, via the Habeas Data legal recourse (a citizen’s right to be aware of the data related to it and the purposes with which it is to be used by a given third party, being the citizen able to request rectification, cancellation and or updating of such data), and, after going through the situation as it is today in Colombia, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Europe and some multilateral bodies, it suggests in a not very long document, the minimum standards that all regional governments should address when enacting new legislations related to data protection.
And why did this geekie group address such a task? Because it is a must for our countries to enact similar laws, that are all based on the same principles, that do not block international trade but that at the same time do protect citizen’s rights and liberties. As of today, governments in the region have most of the times assumed that each one of them was free to enact whatever laws they wanted to and that in very few cases those laws would negatively impact their neighbors. That’s not today’s scenario; laws that are somehow related to the Internet and to international flows of information cannot be thought of as if each country was an isle, or else they’ll all become one, separated from one another, with very annoying consequences for their commerce and their citizens.
It is now in the hands of the local members of the Data Protection Net in each country to be able to evangelize and get the message really spread among the right players, so they can on their turn understand the importance of enacting sound and standardized legislations on the matter. There’s a period of some 5 years, just to mention a number, in which very many new laws will be enacted region wide; and 5 years is not much… at its end we ought to be in the golden era of safe Internet and safe data flows (at least from a legal and political perspective.)
It is a pity that whenever these kinds of issues are discussed very few of us, geeks ;), get involved; we might any time soon be loosing momentum and notice, a bit too late, that we lost our chance to speak out loud and make our legislative branches see that they’re not moving in the right direction.
Carlos S. Álvarez
blogladooscuro @ gmail.com
Note: it did call my attention that I received no comments to my previous posts related to the future of WHOIS. I guess so will be the case with regards to this post. And I don’t think that that lack of comments is due to the topics not being interesting; maybe it’s just because… well, I’ve no idea. Whatever.