Actions speak louder than words: APEC Launches New Privacy Enforcement Initiative

| July 21, 2010

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has launched an initiative to help boost consumer trust in e-commerce by fortifying enforcement of regional data privacy laws.

The APEC Cross-border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA) will serve as a platform for authorities to engage in information sharing, evidence collection and complaints handling, among other imperatives.  The formal commencement day was 16 July 2010.

Initial participants include the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Australia, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The announcement follows the recent establishment of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN).

The CPEA is a structured regional arrangement, setting out specific procedures and mechanisms for cooperation among participating privacy enforcement authorities in APEC member economies.  As such, it is a world first for privacy regulators.

Here is a clear case where actions are speaking louder than words!

Agreeing on the APEC Privacy Guidelines in 2004 was significant in itself. Endorsement was achieved in record time in no small part through the remarkable efforts of Peter Ford who was in the Attorney-General’s Department of Australia at the time.

But some of us felt that more needed to be done:  how could the framework be given life?

After a series of informal discussions, we developed a formal proposal for technical assistance seminars which APEC agreed to fund.  Peter Ford and I organised and facilitated the first seminars in 2005: Hong Kong in May and Korea in September.

These seminars and the meetings of the Data Privacy Subgroup of the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group culminated in the Data Privacy Pathfinder. The Pathfinder was developed during the 2007 seminars and meetings when Australia hosted APEC. The Pathfinder was made up of 9 projects. These included the projects leading to the CPEA.

And now we have a real and formal CPEA in place. The step by step development of the Pathfinder projects are due to the effort and persistence of a large number of people from all round the APEC region, but particularly from Canada, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Japan, Mexico, the US as well as Australia; both in government, business and non government organisations.

Congratulations to all who have been part of this journey.

Even though the journey is not yet over, with some Pathfinder projects still not quite complete, at the risk of repetition, we are clearly seeing actions speaking louder than words!