The APEC Data Privacy Pathfinder
(Pathfinder) was formally endorsed by APEC
members when they met in Sydney last year. The purpose of the
Pathfinder is to develop a framework to regulate the transfer
of personal information by business across national borders,
which aims to ensure that an individual's personal
information is protected no matter which APEC country the
information is transferred from or to.
The Pathfinder involves 13 APEC member economies developing
and road testing a number of projects, each with the aim of
achieving one or more of the following elements considered to
be central to an effective regulatory system:
recognition or acceptance
dispute resolution or enforcement
The participating APEC member economies are Australia,
Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New
Zealand, Peru, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, and
A total of nine projects have been agreed as part of the
Pathfinder, two of which are outlined below.
The first Pathfinder project involves the development of a
'template' self-assessment document to be used
by organisations when developing their own cross border privacy
rules for the transfer of personal information
(CBPRs). This document will aim to ensure
consistency with the nine APEC information privacy principles
(APEC Privacy Principles).
The introduction of a standard self-assessment document is
expected to assist organisations develop their own CBPRs,
assist in achieving consistency against the APEC Privacy
Principles and increase consumer confidence that CBPRs are
developed in accordance with a standard document.
Another Pathfinder project contemplates the appointment of
'trustmark' entities to assess whether an
organisation's CBPRs comply with the APEC Privacy
By way of background, 'trustmarks' are
labels or other visual indicators of participation in a scheme
in which a third party guarantees an organisation's
compliance with certain requirements. Trustmark schemes are
currently in operation in a number of countries, including
Japan and Singapore.
At this stage, it is unclear how the implementation of the
Pathfinder initiatives will interact with Australian privacy
laws as they currently stand. Concern has been expressed that
the existence of a lower standard of data protection compliance
in some APEC economies, which may translate into their CBPRs,
may in turn result in Australian companies being placed in a
position of competitive disadvantage by having to comply with a
higher standard of protection.
More information on the Pathfinder can be found here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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