OECD Updates Guidelines for Transborder Data Flows

    Nov 19, 2013

    The free flow of information across international borders is critical to today’s data-driven world economy. It also raises significant privacy challenges as nearly 100 countries have some form of data privacy laws, the legal disparities of which can hinder the transborder flow of data.

    In an effort to provide a unified standard, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently updated its 1980 “OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.”

    Many countries have used the original guidelines as the basis for their data protection laws, including those in Europe, according to an October 26 MONDAQ article by Cynthia O’Donoghue and Reed Smith. The article says the revised version leaves the original privacy principles unchanged:

    • Fair, lawful, and limited collection of personal data obtained with the knowledge and consent of the individual
    • Data is relevant for purpose collected, is complete, and kept up to date
    • Use of data for new purposes must either be compatible with the original purpose and new uses, or disclosures require consent
    • Use of reasonable security safeguards to protect data and accountability of any data controller
    • Individual right of access to data held, and the right to have data erased, rectified, or amended

    The new version emphasizes the need for data controller accountability regardless of data location or whether it remains within the controller’s own operations, those of its agents, or is transferred to another data controller. According to the article, the OECD encourages using contractual provisions requiring compliance with a data controller's privacy policy, notification protocols in the event of a security breach, and response plans for data breaches and data subject inquiries.

    Improved interoperability and coordination at the government level are also stressed in the new guidelines.

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