The OECD was the first intergovernmental organisation to issue guidelines on international policy for the protection of privacy in computerised data processing.
On 23 September 1980, the Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (Privacy Guidelines) were adopted as a Recommendation of the OECD Council in support of the three principles that bind OECD member countries: pluralistic democracy, respect for human rights and open market economies. They were followed by the 1985 Declaration on Transborder Data Flows , and more recently by the Ministerial Declaration on the Protection of Privacy on Global Networks , adopted by OECD Ministers at the 1998 Ottawa conference, "A Borderless World: Realising the Potential of Global Electronic Commerce".
At that conference, OECD Ministers reaffirmed "their commitment to the protection of privacy on global networks in order to ensure the respect of important rights, build confidence in global networks, and to prevent unnecessary restrictions on transborder flows of personal data". In particular, they declared that they would "work to build bridges between the different approaches adopted by Member countries to ensure privacy protection on global networks based on the OECD Privacy Guidelines".