From Habeas Data Action to Omnibus Data Protection: The Latin American Privacy (R)Evolution


Latin America: More Privacy than You Would Expect

Whenever you ask a privacy expert about parts of the world with strict data privacy laws, the European Union, with its by now famous EU Data Protection Directive, is unequivocally the first, if not the only region, to come up. If you keep pressing your expert, he/she might start discussing the privacy laws in Asia (the Japanese PIPL and the Hong Kong Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance being the laws most frequently cited), Canada or Oceania.

However, few experts, if any, will mention Latin America as a “hot” privacy spot. Is this fair? Is it really the case that data protection laws are inexistent or not prevalent in Latin America? Or is this just another misconception?

Let’s look at some facts:

- Five Latin American countries — Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica — have already enacted comprehensive EU-style data protection laws. This means that approximately 185 million Latin Americans, more or less a third of the total population in the region according to certain rough estimations, are covered by omnibus data protection laws.

- In 2003, Argentina became the fourth country, only after Switzerland, Hungary and Canada, out of a current total of nine to be considered an “adequate protection” jurisdiction by the EU Commission.

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