The privacy community is remembering Brazilian data protection scholar Danilo Doneda for his immeasurable contributions to the field and dedication to bringing privacy rights to Brazilians.
Doneda — a member of the IAPP board of directors and lawyer and professor at the IDP (Brasiliense Institute of Public Law) — died Sunday, Dec. 4 at the age of 52. He was integral in discussions around the Marco Civil da Internet, approved in 2015, and helped to draft Brazil’s General Data Protection Law.
“Danilo was the leading data protection scholar in Brazil, no doubt about it. He’s irreplaceable, totally, on all levels,” IAPP Country Leader, Brazil, and Accenture Compliance, Data Protection and Ethics Counsel Manager Dirceu Santa Rosa, CIPM, said. “He’s a trailblazer. He made such a significant contribution to not only the Brazilian data protection law but the entire data protection environment. We all, the privacy community in Brazil and worldwide, from a certain perspective, enjoy and are affected by his work.”
It’s impossible to measure Doneda’s contributions to the data protection field, particularly in Brazil, Future of Privacy Forum Vice President for Global Privacy Gabriela Zanfir-Fortuna said, calling Doneda “the heart and soul of Brazilian data protection law.”
“He was really the voice of Brazilian data protection law,” she said.
Doneda previously served as general coordinator at Brazil’s Ministry of Justice, was a visiting researcher at the Italian Data Protection Authority, the University of Camerino in Italy, and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany. He also authored several books, papers and articles on civil law, digital rights, and privacy and data protection.
International Data Spaces Facilitator Luis Alberto Montezuma, FIP, said Doneda was “a channel” between Brazil and Spanish-speaking countries whose ability to explain the Latin American legal system was “unique.”
“His opinions as a consultant, professor, and lawyer were grounded in legal erudition but looked at the spirit of the law, jurisprudence, and the broader implications of the issue,” he said. “He leaves a legacy that we should all reflect upon and contribute to expand in Brazil and other Latin American countries.”
When she met Doneda in Brussels in 2015 when he spoke before the European Data Protection Supervisor’s Office about the Marco Civil da Internet and efforts to pass a comprehensive data protection law in Brazil, Zanfir-Fortuna said she was struck by the passion he brought to his work.
“What really touched me was how passionate he was about the field and how much heart he was putting into the way he talked about digital rights and data protection rights for Brazilians,” Zanfir-Fortuna said.
They had stayed in touch since, reconnecting often at professional conferences. Zanfir-Fortuna said she “would always learn from (Doneda). Particularly after the LGPD became law, I always relied on his expertise to understand what was happening in Brazil.”
One of her favorite memories is at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C., last spring, when she sat next to Doneda during a panel overviewing privacy happenings in Latin America. They listened and bantered back and forth, exchanging thoughts and comments, impressed by developments in the field throughout the region.
“We were in awe and happy to see the field growing so much in Latin America and this is because he had always been a proponent of growth of data privacy and protection in Latin America,” she said.
Beyond his work, Santa Rosa said Doneda was unassuming and humble, kind, funny, and an endlessly loyal friend and companion. The two were often sidekicks at IAPP conferences, Santa Rosa said, laughing as he shared stories of them traversing venues and vendor booths for swag and food.
“Danilo was always the one you wanted to crash a party with where there was free food,” he said. “He was such an enjoyable person to be with.”
Santa Rosa said he is “devastated” by the loss of his friend, but thankful for the time they had together, both personally and professionally.
“I’m going to miss him dearly,” he said. “What makes me happy is we all had the chance at the IAPP to connect with him, to have him as a member of the board of directors, as an active participant of the IAPP. He was very conscious of his role and very eager to help.”
Managing Director, IAPP Latin America and Axkati Legal Partner Rosa Maria Franco Velázquez, CIPP/US, said Doneda’s death is a great loss to the privacy community and his work to promote personal data protection as a right will be missed.
“Danilo Doneda was without doubt one of the savviest privacy professionals and a great human being, always willing to share his knowledge and love for this human right,” she said. “He contributed enormously to the profession and our loved association, the IAPP.”
IAPP President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP, said working with Doneda, and experiencing his leadership, “was a privilege.”
“Danilo was a unique and influential figure in our field,” he said. “His quiet and gentle demeanor combined powerfully with a sparkling intellect.”