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II. Privacy issues

Statutory rules on privacy

Ecuador does not have a comprehensive data protection act. However, numerous specific legal regulations protect the right to privacy. Article 14 of the Telecommunications Law (Ley de Telecomunicaciones) recognizes the right to secrecy and privacy of the telecommunications. This article prohibits third persons from interceptng, interfering with, publishing or disclosing without the parties' consent, information transmitted by any means of telecommunications services.1

In March 2001, a Law on Persons with Disabilities (Ley sobre Discapacidades del Ecuador) was enacted.2 This law creates a National Registry of Persons with Disabilities. The registry will be administered by the Center of Information of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (Centro de Información del Consejo Nacional de Discapacidades).3

A Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information was adopted in May 10, 2004.4 The law provides citizens and foreigners with the right to know and obtain information about acts, contracts with public institutions and projects financed by public resources. The law requires that public institutions or institutions that work with public resources publish information of their activities on an Internet portal, except the information classified as "secret" for reasons of national security.5 All information older than 15 years should be declassified. Public officials who deny access to information shall be sanctioned with a fine or the suspension of their position.

A law on e-commerce and electronic signatures,6 enacted in 2000, establishes that contracts and agreements entered into through the use of electronic signatures shall be equally valid and effective as those executed on paper. Though there are various human rights organizations in Ecuador,7 not one works for the protection of privacy.

Voting privacy

Voting is compulsory for those between the ages of 18 to 65; for those older than 65 voting is optional.8 October 2, 2004, marks Ecuador's first attempt at electronic voting. A pilot election project was done in the capital, Quito, under the direction of the Electoral Supreme Tribunal. The project selected a group of qualified voters by means of a random process using computer matching to ensure randomness. Only the election results, which include no personally identifiable information, were transferred to the Electoral Supreme Tribunal for processing.