On May 7, 2020, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, by 10 votes to 1, decided to suspend Provisional Measure 954/2020, which required telecommunications companies to provide the list of names, telephone numbers and addresses of their clients (individuals or legal entities) to the IBGE Foundation, with the purpose of assisting the production of official statistics remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Provisional Measure was questioned in five different legal claims, that alleged that the mandatory sharing of data violated provisions of the Federal Constitution that ensure the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of intimacy, privacy, honor and image.
The rapporteur Minister Rosa Weber defended the suspension of the Provisional Measure due to the generality of the norm, which failed to define “how” and “for what” data shared by telecommunication companies would be used and in view of the absence of demonstration of legitimate public interest in the exchange of information.
Minister Alexandre de Moraes, following the rapporteur Rosa Weber, voted to suspend the Provisional Measure and stressed the importance of privacy and of data secrecy. The minister explained that such rights are relative, but the constitutional parameters of adequacy, reasonableness and proportionality should be present, which, according to him, do not exist in the norm.
Minister Luís Roberto Barroso also voted to suspend the Provisional Measure. In his vote, he spoke about the “enormous risk” involving data secrecy. He stated that the sharing of personal data, for the purposes of statistical research, should only occur if the purpose of the research is very well limited.
The Federal Supreme Court, therefore, reinforced the importance of personal data protection rights, as provided for by the Brazilian General Data Protection Law, Law No. 13,709/18, which, if disregarded, directly affects the constitutional principles indicated in direct actions of unconstitutionality against the Provisional Measure.