Regional efforts to strengthen information privacy protection were enhanced last week with the first of two technical assistance seminars for the implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework.
Launched by APEC Ministers in Santiago last year, the framework identifies a consistent approach to information privacy protection between APEC member economies, while avoiding the creation of unnecessary barriers to information flows.
Organized by the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), the seminar took place in Hong Kong, China, on June 1-2 and was cosponsored by Hong Kong's Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.
Mr. Tony Lam from Hong Kong's Acting Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said that "The Privacy Commissioner's Office was very pleased to host the 90 delegates from Member Economies and to facilitate dialogue during this important event".
As part of the process of implementing the APEC Privacy Framework Member Economies agreed to hold two technical assistance seminars during the course of 2005. The Chair of the APEC ECSG, Mr. Jesus Orta Martinez, said the event will be useful for all APEC Member Economies.
"These technical assistance seminars are part of the ECSG's commitment to assist member economies in the implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework," Mr Orta said.
"A core objective is to identify and address obstacles to further regional cooperation in the area of information privacy."
The Chairman of the APEC ECSG's Information Privacy Sub-Group, Mr. Peter Ferguson, said it was important that participants came from a broad cross section of the community.
"Given the scope of what member economies agreed to accomplish, it was important that the first technical assistance seminar include a diverse mix of stakeholders from a range of disciplines, and I believe that we accomplished that aim," Mr Ferguson said.
"Participants in the seminar included representatives from governments, the business community and civil society, including consumer advocates and members of academia."
The first technical assistance seminar focused on domestic implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework and addresses a number of key issues, including:
  • Maximizing the benefits of privacy protections and information flows
  • Giving effect to the APEC Privacy Framework
  • Educating and publicizing domestic privacy protections
  • Furthering cooperation between public and private sectors
  • Providing for appropriate remedies in situations where privacy protections are violated
  • Developing a mechanism for reporting domestic implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework
A second technical assistance seminar, which will focus on international implementation issues, is planned for either August or September 2005.