The Constitutional Court of Colombia clarified this week that the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC), the regulator of markets and free competition in the country, cannot carry out dawn raids or interrogate anyone suspected of competition violations without first having obtained a judge’s order. This, stated the Court, is in order to protect the privacy of citizens as well as public and private companies.
Despite being a key tool for the protection of consumer rights, the Court determined that authorities should seek oversight by the constitutional authority, which can balance the rights of the SIC to advance its investigations against the citizens’ rights to privacy.
The SIC’s ability to carry out dawn raids was considered “excessively indeterminate,” so it was necessary to specify the tests that the SIC can perform. Even when these powers were adjusted to the constitution, Judge Alejandro Linares presented the argument, accepted by his colleagues, that these powers should be conditional to a prior consultation with a judge before carrying out such research tasks.
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