How is personal data protected in Costa Rica?
The real value of information.
A company’s assets have always been known as tangible elements; chairs, computers, pens and the like.
However, with the advancement of technology, data has become the most valuable asset as per today.
How much is it worth? A datum per se, or an isolated piece of information, does not represent a major value. Data becomes attractive as a set of relevant information. For instance, Eduardo started a new job with a better salary than he previously had. Coincidentally, he starts receiving calls from an entity that offers services or products. Is there a relation between Eduardo’s new job and the direct marketing that he is receiving?
This kind of situations happen because your data has a business value for commercial use, and it translates, in many cases, into profits for the companies – They enable the identification of potential customers through data analysis.
Given the value of data, there is an institution in charge of protecting it in Costa Rica, called PRODHAB.
What is PRODHAB?
PRODHAB is the Inhabitants Data Protection Agency, an institution with the objective of guaranteeing people’s control over their own information, stored in both public and private records. Another of its objectives is defending people’s freedom and equality in regards to the handling of their personal and goods data.
This institution works in conjunction with Law No. 8968, The Protection of the Person Concerning the Treatment of Personal Data. Some of its functions, mentioned in Law No. 8968, according to PRODHAB’s web page (2017, para.1) are:
- To have a register of the data bases regulated by this law
- To solve complaints by users for violating the established rules for personal data
- To impose penalties according to article 28 of law no. 8968, to those who infringe what is established for personal data protection; and to pass the case to the Public Ministry in case it is considered a crime.
- To educate the inhabitants on the knowledge of the rights on their data, as well as personal data storage, transference and use
How to act in case that your data is insecure, according to Law No. 8968?
In case that a person’s information has been exposed by a public or private institution, PRODHAB enables the process for the protection of rights, through the filing of a claim at this entity.
This happens when any institution infringes the regulations established in Law No. 8968; or when the informative self-determination right (every person’s right to decide how, when and what information of their personal life wants shared) is violated. With this purpose, users can access the official PRODHAB webpage, in the formalities section.
Some of the requirements to file a legal claim are:
- To fill out PRODHAB’s form (in the webpage)
- To present document of identification when filing the claim
- To present related proof to demonstrate the allegations
- To provide the same amount of copies of the claim and its proofs, as the sued parts in the process
- To indicate exact physical address of the defendant(s)
- To sign all documents at PRODHAB’s headquarters.
A crucial detail is that the person filing the claim must know who is using or storing their personal data, with the purpose of understanding in what manner they will handle this information. Entities that make use of users’ information must provide an “informed consentment” that specifies how they will use this data. And the person must give the authorization.
It is because of this that reading this document carefully is vital, since the person may be giving away- to the entity- the right to use their information with business purposes and to transfer it to third parties. Bearing this in mind, the person is entitled to raise as many questions as considered necessary.
Agencia de Protección de Datos de los Habitantes. (2017). PRODHAB. Retrieved from http://prodhab.go.cr/quienesomos/
Agencia de Protección de Datos de los Habitantes. (2017). PRODHAB. Retrieved from http://prodhab.go.cr/funciones/
Agencia de Protección de Datos de los Habitantes. (2017). PRODHAB. Retrieved from http://prodhab.go.cr/ procedimientosdeprote/