Latin America’s turbulent economy has created significant uncertainty for enterprises operating the region. But two things are clear: the adoption of digital tech and the increase in digital regulation are both rapidly accelerating.
As Latin American countries continue the process of digital transformation, companies must learn to navigate increasingly the strict regulatory demands emerging across South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Gathering reliable business intelligence is more crucial than ever.
Like nearly everywhere else, Latin America suffered a decline in growth in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the impact was felt particularly hard in the region, where GDP fell by 7.5% in 2020, compared to a global average fall of 3-3.5%.
However, Latin American countries are expected to recover this lost growth over the next two to three years, with Chile, Columbia, and Peru leading the way.
Growth in Digital Services Outstrips GDP Growth
Perhaps more significant than general GDP growth is the rapid adoption of digital technology across the Latin American region.
According to data from the World Bank, around 6% of Latin Americans were using the internet in 2001. By 2019, this figure had risen eleven-fold, to 66%.
Brazil alone has over 160 million users as of 2021, an increase of 6.1% on 2020. And 8 in 10 Peruvians are online—a ratio comparable with the average across Europe.
Atlantico’s Q3 2021 Digital Transformation Index suggests that the value of Latin American tech companies constituted 3.4% of the region’s economy in 2021, up from 2.3% in 2020.
Latin America is also currently home to 105 “unicorns”—tech startups valued at 1 billion USD or above—up from 46 in 2020.
Regulation Keeps Apace With Digital Transformation
This rapid growth in digital technology has been accompanied by increasingly rigorous digital regulation.
Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) came into force this August. The law imposes strict data protection rules across all sectors, applying to virtually every company operating in the country.
The LGPD is closely modelled on the GDPR, imposing data processing principles, setting legal bases for processing, and empowering data subjects with rights of access, erasure, and rectification.
Needless to say, the regulation also comes with penalties attached—which can stretch to up to 2% of a company’s Brazilian turnover.
Other Latin American countries are following Brazil’s lead, presenting robust data protection bills with a view to obtaining EU “adequacy” agreements and enabling the free flow of personal data from the EU.
Chile, for example, introduced its Bill No. 11144-07 Regulating the Processing and Protection of Personal Data and Creating the Data Privacy Authority in 2017. While the legislative process has been slow, the government is expediting the bill as a matter of urgency.
And in response to the rapid increase in digital services operating in Peru, the country passed an emergency “digital trust” decree in early 2020, strengthening its data protection rules and bringing more companies under the jurisdiction of its data protection authority.
PrivSec Latam: A Livestream Experience on December 2, 2021
It is vital for any organisation operating in Latin America to develop a detailed knowledge of the region’s privacy and security compliance obligations.
PrivSec LatAm will welcome senior decision-makers from across Latin America seeking the latest advice, guidance and information from subject matter experts, industry leaders and academics focusing on both practical and ethical issues.