Colombia Adds U.S. to List of Data-Transfer-Safe Nations

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By David Haskel

Colombia has adopted new market-friendly privacy rules that add the U.S. to the list of safe nations for data transfer purposes.

The move should increase bilateral trade between the countries and make Colombia a more attractive place for multinationals to invest, attorneys told Bloomberg BNA.

U.S.-based PriceSmart Inc., the retail membership company with a market cap of $2.5 billion, has substantial operations in Colombia, according to Bloomberg data.

The finalization of the rules in the form of a rider to the Colombia framework personal data law’s implementing regulations was announced Aug. 14 by the Industry and Trade Superintendence, the country’s data protection authority. The U.S. wasn’t included in a previous draft of the rules issued in February.

“Inclusion of the United States was in response to intense pressure from industrial and business lobbies,” Andres Angel, an attorney and co-founding partner of the Seguridad Legal Colombia data protection law firm in Cali, Colombia, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 14.

Kara Sutton, senior manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation, told Bloomberg BNA that the chamber supports Colombia’s move, “given the importance of data flows to our economic relationship.”

The move will help promote bilateral trade that is “built on modern concepts of international data transfers and protection while promoting data flows and innovation,” she said.

In particular, the move should help local units of U.S. companies, which under the new rules will find it easier to transfer data back and forth between the two nations, Angel said. “For example, the provision to seek prior consent from personal data owners may no longer apply in many cases,” he said.

Daniel Fernandez Bleda, a personal data specialist with Internet Security Auditors in Bogota, Colombia, said the move could impact small- medium- and large-size firms of all types, including call centers, an industry with a strong presence in South America’s No. 3 economy, behind Brazil and Argentina.

“Nowadays, all companies, regardless of their size, need to have the ability to move personal data contained in their client, supplier, and employee databases between countries. And the United States is Colombia’s top export destination,” he told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 14.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Haskel in Buenos Aires at correspondents@bna.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

For More Information

The new rules are available at http://src.bna.com/rE8.

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