Privacy Advisor

Global Privacy Dispatches- South America- IDPN

August 1, 2008

By Shannon Ballard

Iberoamerican Data Protection Network Meeting


For the first time, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was asked to observe the Iberoamerican Data Protection Network (IDPN) meeting, which was held in Cartagena, Colombia, May 27-29. The IDPN was created in 2003 by the Spanish Data Protection Authority as a forum to advance privacy concepts across Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, and to provide policy guidance and resources based on Spanish law. Members include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay.

The meeting, held entirely in Spanish, also offered member countries the opportunity to update attendees on the status of any national legislation regarding privacy and/or freedom of information, and to discuss areas of mutual interest. Almost every country addressed habeas data, or the right for individuals to know what information is held about them by the government and sometimes by the private sector. Most of the countries' privacy policies originated in their national constitutions without separate legislation, but many had laws pertaining to freedom of information. During a globalization discussion, Mexico's Federal Institute of Access to Information (IFAI) provided an excellent overview of its transparency law, the value of the APEC Privacy Framework, pending national privacy legislation, and its ongoing implementation efforts as good guides in dealing with privacy issues.

DHS Chief Privacy Officer Hugo Teufel participated in a panel discussion and focused his comments on the need for good security and privacy—one not outweighing the other. He also questioned how one privacy schema could work for a global audience when individual countries implement privacy legislation based on a particular history, culture or other context.

Shannon Ballard is an associate director of international privacy policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She can be reached at shannon.ballard@dhs.gov.