Digital economy

30 Years After: the Impact of the OECD Privacy Guidelines



Conference held at the
OECD Conference center
Paris, France
10 March 2010


Introduction | Agenda and speeches and presentations | Contact


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The first of three anniversary events was a Roundtable on the impact of the Privacy Guidelines, which took place on 10 March. The keynote speaker for the event was the Honorable Michael Kirby, who chaired the OECD expert group that developed the Guidelines in 1980. Justice Kirby spoke of context in which the Guidelines were conceived, their strenghths and enduring value, and their future. Justice Kirby was then joined by the former Vice-Chair of the expert group, Louis Joinet, and the former Head of the ICCP Division, Hanspeter Gassmann, who recalled the experience of drafting the Guidelines. (Michael Kirby's speech).


The agenda also included sessions in which representatives from governments, civil society, business and APEC spoke about the impact the Guidelines have had on the development of legislation, policies and  self-regulation. The last session of the Roundtable focused on the Guidelines in the current environment, looking at initiatives in Europe and the United States, as well as a recent initiative to prepare a more global approach to privacy protection. Following the Roundtable, the Electronic Privacy Information Center presented Justice Kirby with the 2010 International Privacy Champion Award for his contributions to developing the Guidelines.




Agenda [PDF - 48kb]



  • Andrew Wyckoff, Director of Science, Technology and Industry (OECD)

Session 1: The Development of the Privacy Guidelines

Work on privacy and transborder data flows at the OECD began in the early 1970s. With an increasing divergence in national legislation creating risks to the free flow of information between countries, the OECD undertook to develop guidelines in 1978. They were developed in close cooperation with the Council of Europe, which was preparing what would become Convention 108 at the same time. Privacy concerns core values and OECD countries sought to ensure certain minimum standards for the protection of privacy and individual liberties with regard to personal data. By developing consensus around a set of fundamental principles to protect individuals, it was hoped to diminish the need to regulate the export of personal data and minimise problems related to the conflict of laws.


The first session will explore the issues that motivated the development of the OECD Privacy Guidelines, the challenges of achieving international consensus in a newly emerging policy arena, and the approach that was ultimately adopted. Beginning with a keynote speech from the chair of the body that developed the Guidelines, the session will then open into a panel discussion with other key participants in the drafting of the Guidelines, with a view to informing current considerations.



  • Jorgen Abild Andersen, Director General, Information Technology and Telecommunications Agency, Denmark (Chair of the ICCP Committee)
  • Michael Kirby, former Chair of the OECD Expert Group on Transborder Data Barriers and Privacy Protection (Australia) - Speech
  • Louis Joinet, former Vice-Chair of  the OECD Expert Group on Transborder Data Barriers and Privacy Protection (France)
  • Hanspeter Gassmann, former Head of the OECD ICCP Division - Speech

Session 2: The Impact of the Privacy Guidelines

The Guidelines were the first internationally agreed statement of the core information privacy principles and remain an important point of reference in contemporary policy discussions. The Guidelines have had a substantial impact, including as a basis for national laws. Nearly every OECD country now has one or more laws protecting privacy, up from one-third of OECD countries when the Guidelines were agreed. The Guidelines have also served as a basis for other international instruments, like the EU Directive 95/46/EC and the APEC Privacy Framework (2004). More broadly, the Guidelines have served as a basis for policies and self-regulation, influencing business practices and shaping the expectations of individuals. 
Session 2 will provide participants an opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges in implementing the Guidelines.  In addition to perspectives from a number of member governments, views form business and civil society will inform a broader discussion on the impact of the Guidelines.


  • Keith Besgrove, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, Australia  (Chair of the WPISP)  
  • Jane Hamilton, Acting Director, Electronic Commerce Branch, Industry Canada - Speech
  • Fumio Shimpo, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University (Japan) - Speech Presentation
  • Blair Stewart, Assistant Commissioner, Office of the Privacy Commissioner (New Zealand) - Speech
  • David Smith, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Information Commissioner (United Kingdom)
  • Hugh Stevenson, Deputy Director, Office of International Affairs, Federal Trade Commission  (United States) - Speech
  • Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director, EPIC (CSISAC) - Speech
  • Joseph Alhadeff, President for Global Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer, Oracle Corporation (BIAC)
  • Malcolm Crompton, Managing Director, Information Integrity Solutions - Speech 

Session 3: The Privacy Guidelines in the Current Environment

Noting the ongoing nature of developments in technology and likely growth in transborder data flows, the Explanatory Memorandum to the Privacy Guidelines describes the forward-looking attitudes that informed the technology-neutral approach adopted in the Guidelines. Nevertheless there have been dramatic changes in volume and uses of personal data over the intervening 30 years – triggered in part by the ready availability of fixed and mobile computing devices globally connected through the Internet. Information is increasingly a core asset for modern business operations and essential to effective government administration.


Session 3 will consider the Guidelines more explicitly in the current environment for protecting privacy.  The first two presentations will outline views on the current thinking in Europe and the United States, with the 3rd presentation will outline a recent initiative to prepare a more global approach to privacy protection. The discussion will then be opened up to all participants for a preliminary exchange on the current and future opportunities and challenges – a dialogue to be continued during other 30th anniversary events in October and December 2010.  



  • Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada (Chair of the WPISP privacy volunteer group)
  • Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor - Speech 
  • Daniel Weitzner, Associate Administrator for Policy, NTIA, Department of  Commerce (United States)
  • Artemi Rallo Lombarte, President, Data Protection Agency (Spain) - Presentation


  • Jorgen Abild Andersen, Director General, Information Technology and Telecommunications Agency, Denmark (Chair of the ICCP Committee)




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