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@IDGConnect: Peru’s controversial new data retention law

Peru has introduced a controversial new data retention law that will allow authorities to access user data from telecoms, such as whom they communicate with and for how long and where they are communicating from. Crucially the decree states [Spanish] that location data is no longer a protected private communication under the Peruvian constitution.

Telecom providers in Peru will be required to retain this user data for one year. Authorities can access the data in real time as well as historical location data. Telecoms can also be obliged to retain data for an additional two years.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that the decree was adopted with no public consultation and under legislation covering crime and public safety. The document mentions attempts to stem organised crime, drug trafficking, and illegal logging, but it was passed a day before a public holiday when it could possibly seep through the cracks unnoticed and avoid debate.

Miguel Morachimo, director of NGO Hiperderecho, told the EFF that removing the privacy safeguards for location data is a clear mistake and gives the police too much power to access that data. “The fact that it was directly approved by the Executive Branch without prior debate and in the middle of national holiday season is especially undemocratic,” he said.

One of the biggest bones of contention with the Peruvian law is over geolocation data and removing its privacy safeguards in the face of growing concerns around the sensitivity of such data. In 2011 for example, the EU published its official opinion [PDF] on geolocation data, stating that because smartphones are inextricably linked to their owner, it can provide a “very intimate insight into the private life of the owners”.

“This will leave Peruvian police with access to more precise, more comprehensive, and more pervasive data than would ever have been possible under previous policies,” wrote Global Voices, which criticised the government for ignoring the potential abuses.

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