By DATA Uruguay – Datysoc Project


Uruguay leads the rankings of ICT inclusion and digital development in Latin America; It has the highest Internet access rates in the region, has successfully promoted digital inclusion plans and leads the e-government ranking in the region. These data seem very encouraging and give the feeling that Uruguay has “everything solved”. However, at DATA Uruguay we feel a contrast between these advances and the lack of public discussion on issues such as the defenselessness of users against Internet content blockages, advances in the surveillance technologies acquisition without analysis of the human rights impact, the increase in online gender-based violence, among others. This evidences the poor civil society organizations training in the exercise of their rights in digital environments and the absence of a human rights perspective on the part of decision making when regulating or planning innovation policies and the use of digital technologies.

The Data and Society Laboratory (Datysoc) emerged as an DATA Uruguay initiative with the aim of facing this contrasting panorama in the country, strengthening the digital rights agenda in Uruguay and in the region, and working around 4 axes: 1) Copyright and access to culture, 2) Freedom of expression, 3) Digital inclusion and gender and, 4) Privacy and surveillance.

Lines of action and impact

1. Providing evidence of the regulatory delay and the urgent need to reform Copyright at the national and regional level.

At Datysoc, we understood that it would be useful to demonstrate the normative and harmonization delay of existing copyright laws in our region in a graphic and easy to understand way, that’s why we built a consultation tool with interactive maps and a report that simplifies the task of normative revision to activists, institutions and decision makers when analyzing the situation of flexibilities to copyright in 19 Latin American countries.

This year We present the results of the report in the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights of the World Intellectual Property Organization (OMPI), that is a  key input for Latin American civil society organizations observers at OMPI in their effort to make visible our region legal anachronism.

The alliance with Indela also allowed us to work at a national level and co-write an open Platform on flexibilities to copyright in Uruguay together with actors from: education, science, technology, libraries and archives. We have also organized a Parliamentary Reflection Day on Copyright Reform in which we will present this platform together with other two investigations on the continuing problems faced by educational institutions, archives and digital repositories in Uruguay.

2. Contributing to the debate for the regulation of large platforms and data governance.

The “private control” of the Internet and the increasing progress of the large platforms intervention setting the rules in cyberspace is a concern that several organizations in the region share. We were especially interested in joining forces to promote online freedom of expression guarantees and a free and open Internet from a Latin American perspective. In this way we work with more than a dozen organizations in the region to jointly promote the Standards proposal for large platforms democratic regulation .

In May 2022, the Global Conference for World Press Freedom Day took place in Uruguay, where we co-organized activities and presented the “Latin American Declaration on Internet Platforms Transparency” signed by 19 civil society organizations dedicated to the Internet public policies study and the  fundamental rights defense.

At the same time, we perform analysis on data governance situation in Uruguay concluding that, despite the fact that Uruguay shows a solid institutional framework, there is still a long way to go towards the standards and initiatives consolidation, since most of its data governance infrastructure depends on a single institution, through the Government Agency Information and Knowledge Society (AGESIC), and that the civil society contributions are very limited.

3. Consolidating cyberfeminist networks and self-defense tools against gender-based violence online.

The alliance with Indela allowed us to have the means to unite groups, consolidate links and thus form the “Feminist Entramada”, an alliance of cooperation and co-formation between feminist groups in Uruguay on digital rights and gender issues.

With these groups we co-organize the First Cyberfeminist Conference in Uruguay where for the first time, groups, women and dissidents met to work on the identification of online gender forms of violence, safe practices of media activism and self-care and, to build strategies against anti-rights discourses. In these days, we have collected testimonies to lauch the  Campaign “Digital Violence is Real”.

We have also launched the Uruguayan chapter on the platform and published a 10 cards opened educational resource with relevant information for raising awareness on gender-based violence online. Thus, a thriving community was born with enormous potential to grow and win rights.

4. Alerting about the risks of police use of biometric data of all citizens and Automated Facial Recognition (RFA)

Finally, the support and Indela were key to being able to react quickly to the Uruguayan government decision to migrate all the citizens facial images at the National Directorate of Civil Identification base, for the facial identification database creation to feed facial recognition software recently acquired by the national police.

We have researched the issue for an year and published the report Out of control: police use of automated facial recognition in Uruguay, together with an awareness campaign on the impact of these decisions on civil and political rights.

In June 2022 we co-organized a parliamentary debate table on the police use of Automated Facial Recognition together with the Senate Human Rights, Science and Technology Commissions . We understand that this will be the first step towards prohibiting the massive enrollment of the entire population in the RFA system, prohibiting the use of RFA as a means of continuous police surveillance without a court order in public spaces, and sanctioning adequate regulation of basic human rights standards.

Finally, we highlight the fundamental impulse that Indela’s support meant to install the Data and Society Laboratory as a knowledge producer and a benchmark on the national and regional digital rights scene and, even more importantly, to influence the legislative agenda by promoting various parliamentary instances debates on digital rights issues. The road is just beginning, we will continue working to translate these processes into policies and regulations with a human rights perspective.