OECD to develop principles for govt access to private data
Data flows are integral to the global digital economy and necessary for reaping the benefits of digitalisation. Appropriate governance and safeguards for how governments access personal data held by private entities are an important part of building trust and minimising barriers to data flows.
The OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy conducted further work and examined the possibility of developing high-level policy guidance for government access to personal data held by the private sector. In December 2020, it issued a statement reflecting its views related to this issue and plans for the near future.
The 2020 OECD Ministerial Council Statement recognised the transformative potential of the digital economy by ensuring data free flow with trust, a dynamic further underscored by the role of data to the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
The statement also addressed the importance of data governance and privacy for the Committee on Digital Economy Policy, as reflected through the establishment of a dedicated Working Party on Data Governance and Privacy (WPDGP), building on the OECCD’s historical leadership in these areas.
In the context of the recent review of the implementation of the OECD’s 1980 Privacy Guidelines, as revised in 2013, the WPDGP identified unconstrained and disproportionate government access to personal data held by the private sector as a crucial issue for data governance.
Given the globally interconnected nature of the digital economy, the Committee raised concerns about government practices that fail to preserve trust, through unconstrained or disproportionate requirements by governments that compel access to personal data held by the private sector. The Committee also raised concerns that a lack of common principles for trusted government access to personal data may lead to undue restrictions on data flows, resulting in detrimental economic impacts.
The Committee noted that working towards trusted government access to personal data held by the private sector is an urgent priority, requiring further international collaboration. With this in mind, the Committee plans to conduct further work to examine the possibility of developing an instrument setting out high-level principles or policy guidance for trusted government access to personal data held by the private sector.
Such work would bring together and elaborate a set of common and coherent good practices and legal guarantees from across OECD countries for best reconciling law enforcement and national security needs for data with protection of individual rights.
To this end, the Committee has agreed to convene a drafting group comprising nominated government representatives and experts. The drafting group will start its work in early 2021 and develop a proposal for the Committee’s consideration.
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