In a recent ruling (Federal Administrative Court of Appeals, Division II, "Association of State Workers v. Ministry of Modernization, on Law No. 16,986", October 25 2018), and following the criteria established by a prior decision, the Federal Administrative Court of Appeals recognized that public agencies may abstain from providing sensitive data when faced with public requests for information.
The case stems from the Association of State Workers requiring the Ministry of Modernization to provide certain information on employment and salaries from the national public sector’s database, based on Law No. 27,275 on Access to Public Information.
Among other items, the information requested included the employees’ affiliation to worker unions. The Ministry of Modernization mostly complied with the association’s request. However, it did not provide the information regarding employee union affiliation. The Association filed a judicial claim, in order for the courts to order the Ministry to fully comply with its request for information.
The court of first instance dismissed the claim, stating that the Ministry of Modernization had already provided the required information.
On appeal, the Federal Court of Appeals ordered the Ministry to provide, within a 10 day period, either the missing information or a sufficient reason which would justify why it cannot comply with the Association’s request.
In order to do so, it held that, regardless of the fact that the ministry did not invoke the that union information is considered sensitive data under Personal Data Protection Law No. 25,326, this type of information cannot be made public without the data subject’s consent.
The court’s decision is relevant because it recognizes that the right to access public information can be limited, if properly substantiated and within the exceptions provided in Law No. 27,275 on Access to Public Information, in cases where the required information includes sensitive data and there is no express consent from the data subject.
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