Data protection and privacy of information in Honduras

By: Janine Paz

Today, we live in the so-called “Age of Digitalization”, in which the protection of data and privacy of information and communications is increasingly necessary at a global level. According to the Digital 2020 report, which evaluates how people around the world use the internet, smartphones, social networks and e-commerce, the world population uses the internet approximately 6 hours and 43 minutes a day, equivalent to 100 days a year, and that e-commerce grew during 2020, what was expected to grow in 10 years, which means that its expansion was exponential.

According to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” “For example, Jerry Kang defines privacy as the union of three overlapping sets of ideas: (1) physical space: “the extent to which an individual’s territorial solitude is protected from invasion by unwanted objects or signals”; (2) choice: “an individual’s ability to make certain important decisions without interference”; (3) personal information flow: “an individual’s control over the processing-that is, the acquisition, disclosure, and use-of personal information.”[1] This issue is vitally important, especially for the public.

This issue is of vital importance, especially for companies that sign labor contracts that include the confidentiality clause of the information known by their workers and the prohibition to disclose it, as well as supply and service contracts that include the clause of protection of personal data including those of their employees, the company and/or representatives. This clause seeks to maintain security, administrative, technical and physical measures to protect data against damage, loss, alteration, destruction, use, access or unauthorized processing.

Article 76 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras establishes that “the protection of honor, personal and family privacy and self-image is guaranteed”. Likewise, Article 100 states that “Every person has the right to the inviolability and secrecy of communications, especially postal, telegraphic and telephone communications, except in the case of a judicial resolution ….. In any case, secrecy shall always be maintained with respect to strictly private matters that are not related to the subject matter of the action of the authority”. Article 182, numeral 2, recognizes the Constitutional Guarantee of Habeas Data which guarantees that “every person has the right to access information about himself or his property in an expeditious and not onerous manner, whether it is contained in databases, public or private records and, if necessary, to update, rectify and/or suppress it”.

The Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information [2]regulates matters related to personal data in Articles 23 to 25. In 2013, a preliminary draft of the Law on Protection of Personal Data promoted by the Institute of Access to Information was prepared, which aims to protect personal data in order to regulate its legitimate, controlled and informed treatment, in order to ensure privacy and the right to informational self-determination of individuals. In 2018, it was disclosed that so far 19 articles had been approved out of the 96 that were submitted. Currently, the project is still in the process of debate, the last one being in the month of April 2018.

The European Union, through the European Parliament and the Council, issued the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)[3], which establishes the guidelines to be followed regarding the processing of personal data of natural persons and the free circulation of such data. This regulation has served as the legal basis for the legislations of various countries that choose to implement their own data protection rules.

There is still a long way to go, however, the Honduran Legislative Power has already established several applicable rules that guarantee and protect the information of companies and individuals. In the aforementioned bill, limitations are imposed on entities and organizations engaged in the collection of data such as hospitals, banks, telecommunications companies, as well as the National Registry of Persons, among others, for the collection and distribution of this information. Therefore, it is expected to be approved and applied in the Honduran territory as soon as possible.

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., September 1, 2022

[1] Daniel J. Solove, Conceptualizing Privacy, 90 Cal. L. Rev. 1087 (2002).

[2] Legislative Decree No. 170-2006 of December 30, 2006.

[3] Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of April 27, 2016.