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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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Relation between Privacy Protection, Data Protection and Habeas Data

The protection of privacy is a fundamental right recognized by the United Nations to Project individual freedom, freedom of expression, privacy and personal dignity.


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This law contains within itself the protection of data and the figure of Habeas Data.

Data Protection protects people against misuse of personal information by data processors. And the Habeas Data, being a figure for use only by some Latin American countries, gives the individuals the right to access, correct, and object to the processing of their information.

In general, privacy is the genus and data protection is the species. And the Habeas Data is in a narrower sense, which operates as a right of access to personal information within the regime of personal data.

Right to Privacy:

The right to privacy is to safeguard personal dignity; it supports the fundamental principles of honor and personal dignity. The right to privacy extends beyond data protection, encompasses the respect for family life, religious, political, and sexual preferences, the interception of communications, the use of hidden cameras, genetic testing, etc. The protection of privacy is necessary for the legal order to guarantee respect for personal dignity.

The Council of Europe defines the right to privacy as a fundamental human right, also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights define privacy as a right: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.” The two treaties later explained: “Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” Accordingly, the right to privacy covers all aspects of life of the individual and also the processing of personal data by government and private organizations.

Data Protection:

As mentioned in the introductory part of the page, data protection is a right to personal privacy that people have against the possible use of their personal data by data processors in an unauthorized manner or against the requirements of force. This discipline is to protect the privacy of individuals at risk for the collection and misuse their personal data.

Habeas Data:

The Habeas Data can be found within Data Protection. In Latin America, the Habeas Data is an action that is brought before the courts to allow the protection of the individual’s image, privacy, honour, self-determination of information and freedom of information of a person. This is a mechanism of action that gives the aggrieved person to file a complaint with the judicial system to stop the abuse of personal data. In general, it allows the individual access to personal information in databases the ability to edit and update data, the possibility to ensure that sensitive data to maintain their confidentiality and the removal of sensitive personal data that could violate the right to privacy.

The Habeas Data does not require data processors to ensure the protection of personal data processed. It is presented as a legal action requiring the person aggrieved, after filing a complaint with the justice, the access and/or rectification to any personal data who may jeopardize their right to privacy.

Relation between Privacy Protection, Data Protection and Habeas Data

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