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International Law


Juridical Committee

Sec. for Legal Affairs


Organization of American States

Department of International Law
Data Protection

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What is Data Protection?

Data Protection is a right to privacy that people have against possible unauthorized use of personal information by a data processor. The object of this discipline is to protect the privacy of a person at risk for the collection and misuse of personal data.

Data Protection also allows people to know who and for what purposes it processes the personal data, and may object the improper use. Control over personal data consists in the possibility of opposing the prosecution and/or obtain, correct and object to the use of them once they have been obtained by a processor or a third party.


In any case, the processing must be fair, legitimate, and for a limited purpose.

On one hand, data protection allows people more control over they way they share their data with data processors, either the State or an individual. On the other, it establishes the obligations of data processors: they must obtain the free and informed consent of the person prior to processing; ensure measures to guarantee the integrity and confidentiality of data; and in case of sharing information, it must ensure that third parties comply with the same level of protection. When a breach occurs by the data processor, the person may object requesting the correction or deletion of personal data.

What does Personal Data means?

Personal data refers to all personal information of any kind referred to people. Thus, it not only refers to private information of the person, but to any kind of data, whether or not private, that may affect rights if used by data processors.

Why is Data Protection important?

Advances in computer technology, medicine and biotechnology led to an increase in the processing of personal data in various spheres of economic and social activities, presenting complex technology challenges. On the other hand, progress in technology and electronic commerce makes the treatment and exchange of data across international boundaries become easier and necessary. Therefore, it is important to protect personal data while fostering the continued flow of information, advances in technology and electronic commerce. However, the meaning of private life and the origins of an individual’s right to privacy vary as policies and laws that govern this right differ from country to country, so new rules and regulations have become a necessity to develop the use of personal data to ensure the fundamental rights involved.

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