The ANSES pension fund. Photo via abogadosrosario

Two Victory Front (FpV) deputies yesterday formally accused several key members of the Macri administration of abusing their authority and violating citizens’ privacy after the government granted the Communications Secretariat access to the National Social Security Administration’s (ANSES) database. Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, ANSES director Emilio Basavilbaso and Communications Secretary Jorge Greco were among the accused.

While the administration argues the information will only be used to improve its communication with Argentines, different members of the opposition are concerned about the possibility of having the government use the database, which contains the information of roughly 16 million Argentines, for other reasons.

“We have the right to suspect that the Macri administration will use this information for illegal purposes, violating Law 25.236, which protects personal information,” reads a passage from the deputies’ accusation. “The administration intends to use this data for political propaganda, smear campaigns and to manipulate public opinion,” the accusation adds.

According to Resolution 166 published on Monday in the Official Bulletin, ANSES will periodically send over information regarding citizens’ first names, last names, ID numbers, addresses, phone numbers, emails, dates of birth, civil statuses and education levels. “It is essential for the government to identify, evaluate and analyze the different problems or matters of interest in every region of the country, as well as understand and detect social and cultural variables that allow us to incorporate diversity in public communication,” reads a passage of the resolution, which goes on to inform that the agreement will last two years.

FpV Deputy Juan Cabandie presented the accusation. Photo via Infobae
FpV Deputy Juan Cabandie presented the accusation. Photo via Infobae

Moreover, they argued that even if the Communications Secretariat does indeed only intend to “keep people informed,” it doesn’t have the necessary manpower, technical equipment or budget to properly deal with this massive database: “The Secretariat would either have to hire thousands of new workers or hire external consulting firms for the task. The answer is not that hard: all Argentines’ information in the ANSES database will end up in the hands of private companies.”

Héctor Recalde, the leader of the FpV caucus in the Lower House — by caucus we mean a group of lawmakers who vote along the same lines — filed an injunction to have the government’s resolution annulled.

What’s the difference between the injunction and the formal accusation? The injunction aims at getting the judiciary to quickly annul the administration’s decision. The accusation seeks to start a criminal process to get the members of the Macri administration to be sentenced for their actions which, according to the deputies, break the law. Even though a judge can also annul the resolution, this processes usually take several years.

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also came out to criticize the resolution, accusing the Macri administration of trying to set up a police state:

“With this agreement, ANSES “hands over” its entire database to the Communications Secratariat.”

“In summary: your life and that of more than 30 million Argentines in the hands of the Chief of Cabinet and Communications Secretariat.”

“Honestly, I don’t believe they are only doing it to compensate their lack of policies with high-tech marketing.”

“Why? Simple. With the ANSES database and good software, they can elaborate a platform of metadata that allows them to know your habits.”

“What you like, your contacts, leanings, activities, etc. Not only will they know everything you do, but they will watch you and control you. Police State.”

Cristina will be returning to the City of Buenos Aires this evening to celebrate the anniversary of the late Hugo Chávez’s birth. We’ll see if she speaks out on the ANSES issue while she’s in town.