The OECD Privacy Guidelines celebrated its 30th Anniversary yesterday in Paris. Michael Kirby is credited with driving their creation and providing terrific insights into how they approached these issues in 1980.

OECD Privacy Guidelines Shaped International Privacy Frameworks Before Laws

These privacy guidelines, adopted 30 years ago by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have shaped national and international privacy frameworks and laws.

Since then, businesses, governments, and consumer advocates have adopted practices to protect personal information while avoiding unnecessary constraints on cross-border data transfers.

Impressively, these guidelines have withstood the test of time despite numerous transformative changes to the technological and social landscape, most notably in the creation of the internet.

The challenge for these guidelines going forward is their continued application and implementation.

The OECD Privacy Guidelines

    • Balance the importance of privacy with the benefits of the free flow of information. This was not a “privacy at all costs” document but one that strove to maintain consumer trust in commerce.
    • Principles and guidelines, not prescriptions, laws, or process requirements. This flexible approach has allowed them to adapt over time.
    • Not tied to a specific technology, the principles recognized the fast-changing nature of commerce and technology.
    • Understood that data flows could not easily be contained, so their scope needed to be global in nature.
    • Become the basis of privacy law not only within OECD countries but also for the APEC privacy initiatives.
    • Simple language. The simple language increases their overall accessibility.

The OECD Privacy Principles have guided TRUSTe and TrustArc in developing their privacy program requirements.

In fact, TRUSTe certifications are born out of the last principle, accountability. TrustArc helps clients bring accountability to their privacy programs and actively works with organizations across the globe to protect personal information and still conduct business effectively.

So, thank you to the founders of OECD privacy guidelines, you’ve inspired a new generation of professionals dedicated to preserving privacy in the digital age.