Habeas data is the first step taken in Latin America to regulate data protection issues. It all started with the inclusion into national constitutions that in the eighties started to create an habeas data remedy. The right of habeas data basically comprises two main rights: right of access and correction of personal data.
The right is defined usually as a judicial action. This remedy is known in Latin America as “habeas data” (usually located next to it cousins: habeas corpus or the writ of amparo). It provides a judicial action to protect constitutional rights, and, in the case of databases, to access and rectify inaccurate information.
However, it also started to be viewed as a right to privacy over personal data, thus introducing as a fundamental right more than a judicial action: right to control the personal information of the data subject or a right to informational self determination. Several supreme courts of Latin America reached this conclusion in interpreting this right of habeas data. In reaching these conclusions they also framed the right within its boundaries.
With the trend to legislate data protection laws, these statutes started to regulate also the procedure to sue private or state entities for data protection right. So this habeas data action is clearly regulated in some sections of the data protection acts in Latin America. This also expanded the scope of the habeas data cause of action: not only provides a remedy to a denial of the right of access and correction but also to challenge in court any other infringement of data protection rights and any other situation related with privacy rights (e.g. spam, credit reporting, identity theft, etc.).
The data protection statutes in Latin America usually provides a specific judicial remedy to access and rectify personal information and then define the standing to sue and be sued under habeas data, the terms to file a complaint and to answer it, the decision of the court, etc.
With the more recent trend to mix consumer protection rights with data protection rights, some countries started to regulate collective or class action rights between habeas data.