Division V of the Federal Court of Appeals on Contentious Administrative Matters rejected a habeas data action against the Financial Information Unit and Banco Santander Rio S.A., which sought to access and delete the plaintiff's personal data held in their databases.

On August 4, 2016, Division V of the Federal Court of Appeals on Contentious Administrative matters confirmed the district court's decision to reject the plaintiff's habeas data action seeking the access and deletion of his personal data held in the databases of the Financial Information Unit ("UIF") and "Banco Santander Rio SA" ("Santander Bank") (re: "Navarro Omar A. v. Unidad de Información Financiera y otro re/ Habeas Data", Docket No. 11/2016/CA1).

The plaintiff argued that he was informed of being under investigation for his supposed involvement in money laundering activities. Such investigation would have obstructed the opening of bank accounts, impeding the normal course of his companies' business.

The Court determined that the right to obtain information regarding personal data held in public entities' databases is limited to those cases where the provision of such information may affect the public security, national defense, foreign affairs or the investigation of crimes.

Pursuant to the Court's decision, the confidentiality granted by Section 22 of Law No. 25,246 to the personal information processed by the Financial Information Unit has been established to ensure the proper functioning and to strengthen the fight against crime. Moreover, the Court explained that Section 23 of the Personal Data Protection Law No. 25,326 ("PDPL"), determines that the processing of personal data for purposes of national defense or public security by the armed forces, security forces and law enforcement or intelligence agencies without the data subject's consent shall be limited to those cases and categories of data that are strictly necessary for the fulfillment of the objectives assigned to them by law.

Consequently, the Court of Appeals explained that in order to determine if such information should remain confidential it is necessary to assess the following issues:

  1. if the information is strictly necessary for the compliance with the legal objective of the agency that collected it; or
  2. if there is concrete evidence of the damage caused as a result of the information collected by the agency. In such case, it would be necessary to balance the rights to access to personal information against the State's duty to prevent serious crimes.

The Court of Appeals concluded that, in this case, the plaintiff did not provide any evidence regarding him not being able to open a bank account for his company with Santander Bank. Similarly, the Court states that he did not clarify, nor has he attempted to prove that any other financial entities had taken the same attitude.

Thus, given the lack of evidence regarding the damage caused to the plaintiff, the Court of Appeals ruled that the ruling made by the law in favor of the confidentiality of the data processed by the Financial Information Unit concerning the investigation of crimes related to money laundering and financing of terrorism should prevail.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.