In August, I also attended the 14th Privacy and Personal Data Protection Seminar, organised by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI) and the Brazilian Network Information Centre (NIC.br) in São Paulo. In light of Brazil’s G20 presidency, the already well-established event gained even more importance this year.
Something to be acknowledged and celebrated from the start was the efforts to ensure gender, racial, and geographical diversity in all panels. But I do wonder about the lack of voices from people outside the data protection field - and Adam’s initiative to bring workers to share their stories in a public hearing comes to mind -, especially after listening to Waldemar Gonçalves, director at the Brazilian Data Protection Authority, state that data subjects now feel safer in Brazil thanks to the Brazilian Data Protection Law and the Authority’s work … without providing any evidence of it.
Panel 5, about open finance, posed important questions about economic data and race in a country historically unequal such as Brazil. Ramon Vilarino, from Berkeley and USP, was assertive: “either we are forced to accept and reinforce the status of racial categories as capable of carrying information about reality, or we’ll be forced to deal with the absurdity of needing to weave an explanation about how, with what history, racial categories present themselves as having economic content, in a context where no one was trying to use them in that way.” He referenced Denise Ferreira da Silva’s work for “understanding the racial as symbolic content that comes to constitute an economic dimension.” Her thesis argues that the 2008 financial crisis was the second most significant racial event of the century, second only to the election of Donald Trump. And it is now on my personal reading list!
Deeper discussions around collective data governance and the current limitations of the concept of “personal data” took place during panel 2, which focused on data used by the public sector. Wilson Guilherme, from IRIS, advocated for more discussions on anonymized data “since not all public data is personal.” While discussing illegitimate data uses by the government, Guilherme brought up the case of the “experimental tasting” of data from millions of Brazilians that took over the public debate last year: technical cooperation agreements signed between the Ministry of Economy, through the Secretariat of Digital Government, the Brazilian Federation of Banks and the Brazilian Association of Banks provided for the “experimental tasting” of biographical and biometric data from millions of Brazilians and allowed financial institutions to access the databases of the National Civil Identity and the gov.br platform free of charge. This case was just part of a whole movement of narratives about state efficiency becoming fuel for personal data sharing in Brazil.
On that same panel, Fernanda Campagnucci, from Open Knowledge Brasil, talked about how efforts to implement the Brazilian Data Protection Law (LGPD) at the local level have focused mainly on contractual clauses, “turning it more into a pro forma checklist than a discussion about data governance.” Such a scenario poses the challenges of integrating LGPD into broader governance processes and of making this governance effectively democratic and transparent. Based on her doctoral thesis, in which she analysed the data infrastructure behind the transportation cards in Sao Paulo, she proposes inclusion and participation initiatives divided into four categories:
- Transparency: regarding data sharing, uses, and flows.
- Social participation: requests for data openness, public consultations, input on data collection, and multi-sectoral participation in committees.
- Integrity: publishing impact assessment reports, access logs, and independent audits, as well as third-party accountability mechanisms.
- Open technologies: access via APIs and architecture for secure sharing.
Considering the limited number of conversations and concrete suggestions about collective governance and participation, there seems to be a lot of work to be done before Tim and I can add many Brazilian cases to our database. And we hope to contribute to that work in the context of G20.