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Authorities begin investigation into Costa Rica data analysis unit for fear of privacy breach

February 24, 2020

The Ombudsman’s Office of Costa Rica on Monday began an investigation into a government unit for data collection and analysis, and requested support from the Prosecutor’s Office, fearing that the body had violated people’s privacy.

As ombudswoman Catalina Crespo explained to journalists, the institution intends to determine what type of information was collected and for what purpose.

“There is an issue of great national importance, which is the protection of personal data,” Crespo said after meeting with President Carlos Alvarado for two hours to discuss the Presidential Data Analysis Unit (UPAD).

The existence of that unit, heavily publicized last week along the decree that had created it, aroused strong criticism for the possibility of allowing the government access to information considered confidential.

President Alvarado last Friday repealed the decree that had created UPAD and on Sunday ordered the suspension of its work to facilitate the investigation of the Defensoría.

The Minister of Communication, Nancy Marín, explained that the creation of the unit was meant for the government to have “accurate and timely information to guide public policy.”

Crespo said that a technical and legal team from her agency will work during this week with the Presidency to determine if the work of UPAD violated the privacy of citizens.

In that regard, she indicated that she asked the Prosecutor’s Office to carry out a technical report on the work of the unit.

The Minister of the Presidency, Víctor Morales, said that the government has “open doors” for the Defensoría, the Prosecutor’s Office or another public entity to investigate the actions of UPAD.

Morales said that the work done by UPAD was attached to the principle of legality, with full respect for the protection of people’s information, and the public interest.

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