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Access to Public Information / Data Protection - December 2014

The CAJP meets to discuss Access to Public Information and Protection of Personal Data

At its meeting on Thursday, December 4, the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the OAS Permanent Council discussed progress, achievements, and challenges of its work on access to public information and the protection of personal data, pursuant to the OAS General Assembly mandate contained in resolution AG/RES. 2842 (XLIV-O/14), "Access to Public Information and Protection of Personal Data," which, inter alia:

Instruct the General Secretariat of the OAS, through the Department of International Law, to continue supporting, with the assistance of civil society and other social actors, the efforts of those member states that so request in adopting the legislative and other appropriate measures needed to guarantee access to public information, in particular for the implementation of the aforementioned Model Law or for continuing to bring themselves into line with it; and the promotion of contacts and exchanges of best practices among the national authorities (commissioners, ombudsmen, etc.) responsible for implementing access to public information; and

Instructs the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI), before the forty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly, to prepare proposals for the CAJP on the different ways in which the protection of personal data can be regulated, including a model law on personal data protection, taking into account international standards in that area.

Dr. David P. Stewart, a member of the CJI and the rapporteur for the data protection issue, underscored the need to coordinate efforts between States to provide regulatory solutions that effectively protect the handling of personal data while permitting the flow of cross-border information required for international trade. He pointed out that fundamental principles of privacy were being put to the test by the information technology allowing personal data to be gathered and transmitted faster and more vigorously than ever.

Dr. Stewart told the Committee that, with a view to providing inputs for the General Assembly's discussion of the topic, the CJI was analyzing legislative trends all over the world, as well as possible forms of implementing the 12 principles formulated by the CJI itself in its "Proposed Statement of Principles for Privacy and Personal Data Protection in the Americas."

The Department of International Law, represented by Dr. Magaly McLean, Senior Legal Officer, gave a presentation on some of the findings of the equitable access to public information project, and highlighted the project's emphasis on high-level workshops for civil servants in all three branches of government, civil society organizations, and academics, as well as other social actors, geared to the preparation of specific recommendations, as an input for the legal reform processes under way in this field.

Dr. McLean pointed out that 7 activities had been conducted since 2011, with representatives from 11 countries and specialized delegates from 8 countries. Four publications had been produced and distributed (and another is at the printing press). She explained that one more activity would be conducted in March 2015 in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, bringing to an end the work done under the OAS-Canada cooperation project.

Nevertheless, she said she was optimistic about the prospects of obtaining the financing needed to continue boosting dissemination of the right to access public information and, especially, the Inter-American Model Law on Equitable Access to Information in other countries of the region, including the Caribbean. She reported that the Department had already received requests from member states for technical assistance in the form of workshops on the subject. .

» For additional information about Access to Public Information, please visit our Website

» For additional information about Data Protection, please visit our Website *currently available only in Spanish

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