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[Buenos Aires] Proposed chang-es to a law regulating databases under debate in the Argentine Senate could seriously hinder foreign investment as well as threaten Argentina's still nascent direct marketing industry, marketers warn.

According to the latest edition of the Habeas Data Law, individuals would not only have to consent to being included in a database but would retain the right to prohibit the exchange of public information such as addresses, ages and telephone numbers between companies without prior authorization.

The proposed changes threaten the lucrative and valuable mailing list business and would create a bureacratic nightmare for companies seeking to access databases, according to a direct marketing industry spokesman.

The Habeas Data Law, laid out in Argentina's 1994 constitutional reform, already guarantees individuals the right to suppress, correct, update or keep confidential any information found to be false or discriminatory. Files also may not include sensitive data on race or sexual, political and religious practices.

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