Military takes over Brazil’s National Data Protection Authority

Following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations in Brazil, the board members of the body responsible for enforcing the rules have been appointed – and most of them are members of the military.

The first president of the the National Data Protection Authority (ANPD, in the Portuguese acronym) is Waldemar Gonçalves, a retired Army colonel who is currently president of state-owned telecommunications company Telebras, a role he has held since January 2019.

Joacil Basilio Rael, a former military officer and an academic who has been focusing on areas such as data security, has also taken a seat on the ANPD board. Arthur Pereira Sabbat, lieutenant-colonel of the Brazilian Army, head of the presidency’s Institutional Security Office and one of the authors of the national cybersecurity strategy, has also been appointed.

In addition, Miriam Wimmer, telecommunications services director at the Ministry of Communications has also been appointed, as well as solicitor Nairane Farias Rabelo Leitão, as the only private sector representative.

Attributions of the ANPD include the creation of frameworks on how to handle information and guide organizations on how to adhere to the rules. It will also be responsible for monitoring and applying fines to non-compliant organizations.

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“I want the authority to be as effective as possible. It is important to build regulation with a focus on the areas that create the greatest risks for the individual”, Gonçalves said at a Senate session on Monday (19) prior to the confirmation of the names in the following day.

“I also understand that the [ANPD] should favor constructive engagement with responsible organizations, focusing on rewarding appropriate behavior, teaching, discussing and engaging actors, using sanctions only as a last resort”, he added.

The ANPD had been included by the Congress in Brazil’s data protection regulations in 2018. The creation of the authority was later vetoed by then president Michel Temer, on the grounds that only the Executive can propose new government bodies. The authority was resurrected months later, linked with the presidential office and under the condition that it wouldn’t generate extra spending.

The board of directors of the ANPD follow the introduction of Brazil’s data protection regulations, sanctioned a month ago after several changes in the original plan. As the regulations were sanctioned, concerns were raised over the legal uncertainty relating to introducing regulations without an authority to enforce them.

Elsewhere in the Brazilian government, members of the military have taken up other senior roles relating to technology this week. Today (23) Air Force major-brigadier Leonidas de Araújo Medeiros Júnior has been named executive secretary at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations, in what is the second most senior role after the minister. The current science and technology minister in Brazil is Marcos Pontes, an Air Force pilot and astronaut.

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