Why privacy matters

Protecting people’s privacy ensures their safety, dignity, freedom of thought and expression. Utilising personal data through digital technologies provides great social and economic benefits, but at the same time, it can also endanger privacy. Data protection and privacy frameworks are increasingly being developed globally, but more international and cross-regulatory co-operation is necessary to avoid fragmentation.

The OECD has been at the forefront in promoting respect for privacy as a fundamental value and a key condition for the free flow of personal data across borders. The OECD provides a unique forum to develop and advance evidence-based policy analysis and advice on privacy to ensure trust and a safe and beneficial digital environment for all.

OECD Privacy Guidelines

The Privacy Guidelines are the cornerstone of the OECD’s work on privacy and are recognized as the global minimum standard for privacy and data protection. They are a solid foundation for building effective protection and trust for individuals, and also for developing common international approaches to transborder data flows.

The OECD promotes a holistic approach to privacy and data protection and is continuously working with countries and experts to scope developments and provide practical recommendations on the implementation of the Privacy Guidelines in today’s digital environment.

Personal data held by private sector entities: Government access

The OECD identified a critical gap affecting cross-border flows of personal data in the lack of a common articulation of the safeguards that countries put in place to protect privacy and other human rights and freedoms when accessing personal data held by private entities for national security and law enforcement purposes.

In December 2022, OECD Members and the European Union achieved an important milestone in addressing this gap and promoting trust in cross-border data flows when they adopted the Declaration on Government Access to Personal Data Held by Private Sector Entities – the first intergovernmental agreement in this area.

Enforcement of laws protecting privacy: OECD Recommendation on Cross-Border Co-operation

This Recommendation aims to foster international co-operation among privacy law enforcement authorities in order to better safeguard personal data and minimise disruptions to transborder data flows.

It was adopted by the OECD Council in 2007 and is currently under review.

Recent publications

About us

OECD work on data governance and privacy is carried out by the Working Party on Data Governance and Privacy in the Digital Economy (DGP), which reports to the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP).

The DGP develops and promotes evidence-based policies on data governance and privacy with an aim to maximise the social and economic benefits from the wider and more effective use of data, while, at the same time, addressing related privacy risks and challenges.

The DGP is composed of delegates from the 38 member countries of the OECD, including in particular representatives of governments and data protection authorities (or equivalent). It works in co-operation with the CDEP’s other working parties and other OECD bodies.

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