Regional privacy authorities may use data-sharing 'white lists' to boost enforcement

Asia-Pacific regional privacy authorities are weighing the merits of legislative 'white lists' to facilitate cross-border action as they utilise a growing number of “significant enforcement actions” using numerous “regulatory tools” to enforce privacy law, members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum confirmed at the organisation's recent meeting in Sydney.

Representatives of the APPA's 16 member authorities were hosted by the Australian Office of the Information Commissioner (OAIC) in Sydney to share progress on their privacy-enforcement activities over the past year, and to plan strategies for the future.

Among the topics discussed were the cross-border disclosure of personal information – which may be facilitated by the use of 'white lists' that would facilitate the sharing of information between organisations with similar laws for protection of personal information.

Member organisations had turned to a range of regulatory tools to police privacy protections over the past year, ranging from enforcement notices and civil penalties to audits, adverse publicity and the “acceptance of enforceable undertakings that require organisations to develop and monitor internal processes and programs”, according to a summary of the meeting published by APPA.

Some states were even turning to criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for privacy breaches.

Significant reforms to Australian privacy law will provide for substantial penalties on private and public organisations for breaches of customer data privacy once the law comes into effect in March 2014.

Enforcement of privacy legislation is only one option on the table, however: APPA members are also engaged in ongoing education and awareness campaigns, particularly focused on managing the “high level of sharing of personal information online by children and young people”.

Members were targeting this issue with new “education and awareness products” aimed at schools, TV advertising, mobile apps and online gaming.

The APPA members also discussed the increasingly common use of regional co-operation networks through bodies such as the OECD Working Party on Information Security and Privacy and the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup of the Electronic Commerce Steering Group, the APEC Cross-border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement, and the PHAEDRA research project to improve cooperation and coordination between privacy and data-protection regulators.

The next APPA meeting will be held by Korea's Personal Information Protection Commission in June 2014 – a month after the next Privacy Awareness Week (PAW), which was confirmed to be held from 4-11 May 2014.

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