Chilean President Promises to Unveil Long-Awaited Data Privacy Bill in June

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May 11 —The Chilean government will send legislation to Congress in June that would create a new system for protecting personal data, President Michelle Bachelet said May 11.

The bill will form part of the new Agenda on Transparency and Probity in Business and Politics which the president launched to staunch a tide of political funding scandals, Bachelet said at a press conference.

The amendments, which have been under consideration in some form for nearly seven years, seek to bring Chile in line with Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data protection standards as a means of developing trust in the financial services industry, she said. The proposed law will balance individual privacy issues with public disclosure requirements of businesses, she said.

Bachelet said she was seeking to engender a “society which resolutely promotes transparency in the private and public spheres but also guarantee the corresponding right to privacy and protection of private data.”

Enforcement Gaps 

Chile's existing data protection law (Law No. 19,628), promulgated in 1999, protects the individual's right to personal information in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But the law lacks the means to enforce it, leaving it largely ineffectual.

In January, a Chilean attorney said at a privacy conference in Brussels that the law makes no provision for a data protection authority and is “without teeth”.

The new bill would create an autonomous National Council for Data Protection that would promote control of personal data by individuals and have powers to impose fines of up to 342 million Chilean pesos ($565,421) if personal data is fraudulently collected or misused.

Public consultation on the present measure closed in August 2014. Details of the new bill were made public in December 2014 following work by a commission comprised of representatives from the government, non-governmental organizations and businesses.

Credit report records are generally covered by a separate statute, which was amended in 2012 to better protect personal data.

Delayed Action 

This isn't the first time that the Chilean government has promised to introduce legislation to fill the enforcement gaps in the 1999 law.

Bachelet, who took over the presidency in March 2014 after serving as president from 2006 to 2010, has long sought to strengthen the country's privacy regime.

In October 2008, she sent legislation to Congress aimed at bringing the country's framework data protection law in line with the recommendations of the OECD by, among other things, adding enforcement provisions to the country’s framework data protection law. That legislation wasn't acted upon by the Congress.

In May 2011, the government announced data protection reforms as part of its economic growth agenda, saying that strengthening the framework statute would make the country a more attractive site for outsourcing activity, such as call centers. But no data protection reform legislation was introduced.

In December 2014, a government official said that the new bill would be introduced soon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Azzopardi in Santiago at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at daplin@bna.com