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International Instruments Relating to Privacy Law

This document is a partner to pages on Privacy Laws of the World, on Privacy Laws of the Commonwealth of Australia and on Privacy Laws of the States and Territories of Australia


Contents


Introduction

There is a vast array of privacy laws around the world. This document provides access to international instruments relevant to privacy law. Please advise us of improvements that should be made. The links in this page are reviewed periodically. Please advise any broken links to the APF Web-Team.


Instruments

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR 1948)

The document is at http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html. It includes:

Article12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

The United Nations Guidelines concerning Computerized Personal Data Files

This was adopted by the General Assembly on 14 December 1990. It is best accessed on the EU site

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

This was adopted on 20 November 1989, and entered into force on 2 September 1990.The document is at http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx. It includes:

Article16

1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.
2. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.


The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR 1966)

The document is at http://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20999/volume-999-I-14668-English.pdf. It includes:

Article 17

  1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour or reputation.
  2. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

This is also the subject of a General Comment (1988), at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CCPR+General+comment+16.En?OpenDocument. This includes the statement that "The obligations imposed by this article require the State to adopt legislative and other measures to give effect to the prohibition against such interferences and attacks as well as to the protection of this right".

UN organisations appear to be incapable of sustaining any URL for longer than a couple of years. The APF accordingly offers a mirror of the document.


The OECD Guidelines

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (OECD, Paris, 1981). And here is their Information and Security page. Note that the OECD is all about economic development, not about social issues or civil liberties.

And be warned the OECD's site has clearly been outsourced to some organisation that cares little for sustaining longstanding links. As a fallback measure, here is the wording of the Principles


The European Convention on Human Rights (1950)

The document is at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/005.htm. It includes:

Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

(Lee Bygrave comments that Article 8 uses language similar to but not identical with UDHR Article 12, that it sets out the criteria for justifying interference with private life, and that it has generated a great deal of case law).


The Council of EuropeConvention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Automatic Processing of Personal Data (1985)

Convention No 108 is at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/WhatYouWant.asp?NT=108.

There is an Additional Protocol regarding supervisory authorities and transborder data flows (2001), at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/181.htm


The European Union

The E.U. has a considerable collection of laws and institutions relating to Data Protection.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000)
Article 7 - Respect for private and family life

Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.

Article 8 - Protection of personal data

  1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
  2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
  3. Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.

The EU Directives (1995, 1997 and 2002)

The EU provides a page listing EU Legislative Documents and case law relating to Data Protection


Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

The APEC Privacy Framework was approved in November 2004


Other Known International Instruments

The [Inter-]American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Art V)

The [Inter-]American Convention on Human Rights (Art 11)


Resources

Valuable resources on the web are as follows:

In print, see:


Acknowledgements

This resource could be developed only by standing on the shoulders of giants, namely:

Thanks also to other contributors, particularly Lee Bygrave.


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Created: 31 May 2000 - Last Amended: 4 November 2013 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 11 January 2009
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