Bolivia Legal Landscape Snapshot

This page offers a high-level overview of the data protection landscape in Bolivia, including  any relevant laws, the challenges in implementing those laws, political willingness, and ongoing advocacy efforts. 

There is no exclusive overarching legislation or bill covering data protection in Bolivia.


Related and Sector-Specific Laws

Bolivian citizens enjoy a constitutional right to privacy. The Privacy Protection Action is a constitutional resource for  cases of infringement of intimacy, privacy, self-image, honor, and reputation rights. Clauses within various other national laws deal with sector-specific data protection issues. These include: 

 

Constitution of the State

Constitutional Procedures Code

Civil Code

Civil Procedures Code

Penal Code

Code of Criminal Procedure

Supreme Decree No. 28168. Access to Information of the Executive Power

Law No. 018 of the Plurinational Electoral Body

Law No. 026 Ley del Régimen Electoral (Electoral Regime Law)

Law No. 164 General law on Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies

Supreme Decrees No. 2617, No. 1391 and No. 1793. 

Regulations to Law No. 164 

Supreme Decree № 2514. Creation of E-government and Information and Communication Technologies Agency (AGETIC). 

Supreme Decree No. 3251

Supreme Decree No. 3525 

Law No. 1488. Digital Citizenship Law

Law 548 Children and Adolescents Code 

Supreme Decree No. 2377 Regulations to the Children and Adolescents Code

Law No 393 Financial services

Law No. 453 General Law of the rights of users and consumers

Supreme Decree No. 2130. Regulation to Law No. 453

Ministerial Resolution 68-09. Ministry of Justice. Regulation of Procedures for Attention and Management of Claims of the Vice Ministry of Defense of User and Consumer Rights


Features of Enforcement

The application of the Privacy Protection Action is limited since Constitutional Actions are subsidiary to ordinary justice. One can only resort to it when the ordinary resources have been exhausted or when a case needs urgent resolution.

Judges and ordinary tribunals are the first to know and resolve cases, with the possibility of a revision by the Constitutional Tribunal. A lack of judges complicates enforcement and resolution of cases. To solve this issue the Law N° 1104 was passed in September 2018 to decentralize the operation and create the constitutional chambers in the departmental courts of justice.

 

Related Draft Bills

Two proposals on data protection were introduced in the Bolivian national assembly, one in 2018 and the other in 2019. Neither of them made it to the discussion stage. The first one was the Personal Data Protection Bill introduced by Congresswoman Jhovana Jordán Antonio, which proposed, among other things, a data protection authority in the form of a decentralized body of the Agency of Electronic Government and Information and Communication Technologies (AGETIC). This bill was presented in the assembly in 2018.

The second was Fundación Internet Bolivia’s own Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, presented as a citizen legislative initiative to  the Plurinational Legislative Assembly in 2019. There is no information on if it was debated. It focuses on the importance of consent and the rights of data subjects. It also proposes the creation of the Personal Data Protection Agency - APP - as an autonomous entity.

The matrix of institutions and bylaws concerned with data protection and privacy in Bolivia is quite diverse and complicated. In September 2018, there was an attempt to simplify and decentralise this process. This was in the form of Constitutional Courtrooms that would handle cases arising out of constitutional actions in and around Bolivia’s main cities. 

 

Personal data protection is not a priority for the authorities. The lack of budget and priorities related to health issues can make it difficult for the draft to be approved.

Key National Issues Related to Privacy and Data Protection 

Although not part of the core debates on data protection and privacy, ancillary issues of access to information and investigation of cybercrimes have taken center stage in Bolivia.

 

Recently, the debate on data protection has been dominated by cases of scams at Banco Unión, where various people were swindled out of their money by posers using account holders’ registered phone numbers to spoof their identities. Though there was a certain amount of public suspicion regarding the involvement of the odd errant bank official in this, the Financial System Supervision Authority (ASFI) attributed the events to the mishandling of electronic devices by users.

 

In addition, laws and bills related to the fight against the Legitimization of Illicit Profits have generated rejection from different sectors of the population, because very broad exemptions have been granted to the Financial Investigation Unit to obtain financial data from people, without the need for judicial intervention. Because of the protest, this regulatory framework (laws and bills) was abrogated or eliminated

Bolivia elected a new government in 2020 after a period of crisis lasting from October 2019 to October 2020. Although the strength of the former incumbent party is reduced, not much has changed under the new dispensation. Political polarization continues with the incumbents and the opposition routinely retaliating against each other. This has led to a political scenario that is a chaotic political persecution, legitimate protests and political sabotage. The former transitional President who served from November 2019 to November 2020 is currently in prison awaiting trial for sedition charges. 

 

There are newly elected authorities at both the National and Municipal level. The  president of the Constitutional Commission has recently indicated interest  in developing a participatory social process around personal data protection and introducing new drafts to his Commission. If this comes to pass, it would mean a formal promotion of the draft among lawmakers. However, the politics in the country are so  extremely polarized and unstable currently, that such progress could be halted at any time. 

 

The issue of data protection and privacy is still not widely debated nor informed in Bolivia. Awareness on these topics was limited to specialists before the pandemic. However, with the need for more rapid  digitalization during lockdowns,  public perceptions around internet policies and rights are changing.


Goals

Promoting privacy as a fundamental right and promoting political consensus on introducing a data protection law are among the chief advocacy goals in Bolivia. Other goals include establishing the importance of consent in data processing and in formulating a regional and global position on the use of personal data by transnational platforms.


Challenges

The political polarisation in the country poses a significant challenge to advocacy efforts. Added to that is the lack of political will among lawmakers to push for data protection legislation. A worsening economic crisis coupled with the pandemic has affected the priorities, interests and the agenda of the government.