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APEC Privacy Framework


The 21 APEC economies (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) commenced development in 2003 of Asia-Pacific privacy standard, and in 2004 APEC Ministers endorsed an APEC Privacy Framework, adding an implementation section in 2005. The principles in the framework are weaker than those in the OECD Guidelines. It does not require any specific method of national enforcement, such as legislation, nor any means of collective assessment of adherence to its standards. It neither prohibits nor requires data export restrictions.

The APEC Privacy Subgroup (of the Electronic Commerce Working Group) has subsequently been working both on 'capacity building' - encouraging domestic implementation of the Framework, and on the development of a Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) approach to transborder data transfers. In 2007 a series of Pathfinder Projects were commenced to develop both the CBPR mechanisms and the cross border enforcement cooperation that all participants agree is a necessary accompaniment. The CPBR approach involves initial self-assessment by businesses but then externally assessment by an accountability agent, which can be either a public authority or a private or non-profit sector body such as a 'trustmark' scheme. In order to be acceptable to other APEC economies, accountability agents will have to meet certain standards, and the operation of the scheme will need to be supported by legally enforceable remedies, involving a public sector enforcement body in all participating countries. The APEC Subgroup has made little attempt to encourage the development of privacy legislation in member economies without such legislation, as a means of implementing the privacy Framework.

There has been little Civil Society participation in the APEC privacy process, and Privacy International and EPIC have now been invited to apply for independent 'guest' status at future meetings of the Privacy Subgroup. There is an ongoing debate amongst civil society organizations and privacy advocates about whether the APEC initiative has some limited merit or is a dangerous distraction from the primary objective of securing strong comprehensive privacy laws in all countries. The APEC Privacy Subgroup is now engaging with the OECD, EU and Council of Europe to discuss the long term relationships between the different international instruments and their regulation of cross border data transfers.

The APEC Website is available here

Privacy International Update on APEC process since February 2009 meeting in Singapore

Privacy International Report on APEC Privacy issues from 2008 to 2009


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European Commission: Consultation on Personal Data Protection

Consultation due on December 31, 2009




This is a listing of events which may be useful for civil society to participate, connect and network on issues relating to information and communication technologies and policies.


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Past Events

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OECD 2008 Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy

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Civil Society Privacy Conference
Sept. 25, 2007

OECD Participative Web Forum
Oct. 3, 2007

Past Public Events

Cape Town Conference »

Wroclaw Conference »

Buenos Aires Conference »

Participation in the World Summit on the Information Society Internet Governance Caucus »

Civil Society Background Paper

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