1 November 2011
Secretary Ferrari, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.
It is a great pleasure to participate in this important conference on current developments in privacy frameworks. Let me start by thanking Secretary Ferrari for inviting me to address you today, and congratulating him and his staff on the new privacy legislation in Mexico.
I also want to praise Commissioner Peschard’s leadership of the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information (IFAI). The work carried out by this institution has contributed significantly to transforming privacy legislation into good privacy practices on the ground.
Privacy is one of our fundamental values. It is also an element which can have a direct impact on our economic prosperity. This is why, three decades ago, the OECD forged international consensus on the first set of privacy protection principles. They have been a remarkable success. However, we all recognize that these principles operate in a significantly changed environment.
First, we witness a shift in scale of the volume of personal data created and analysed, as well as the frequency with which they are used. Nowadays, we generate personal data in a myriad of ways as part of our daily routines.
We describe our activities on social networks. We disclose our interests through our Internet browsing habits and online purchases with credit cards. We are located in time and space through the mobile devices we use. Detailed digital profiles of each of us can be assembled, and they can affect our opportunities positively or negatively.
Secondly, today’s data flows are continuous and global. The hype around terms like “cloud computing” and “big data” remind us that we are facing dramatic transformations in the delivery of online services. These shifts challenge the governance mechanisms we created in the pre-Internet era.
At the OECD Ministerial in Seoul in 2008, I said that personal data are the “currency” of the Internet economy. Since then, the dependence of our economies and societies on the Internet has accelerated, and new techniques to create more value out of personal data have emerged. In this context, getting the policy environment right is essential.
First, we need to elevate the importance of privacy to the highest levels within governments. And we need to promote whole-of-government privacy strategies, as this issue cuts across government ministries and industries, and touches all individuals.
Secondly, it is essential that we ensure the global interoperability of privacy frameworks. Although each national culture has its own vision and approach to privacy, we need a level global playing-field. Widespread agreement on core privacy principles is not sufficient. We also need to strengthen mutual recognition and co-operation in their implementation. This is the only way to achieve the full social and economic benefits afforded by global information and communications technologies.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this conference marks an important step, but only the first step, in the direction I have just outlined. I look forward to the outcomes of your discussions. Thank you.