OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data
Part 1. General definitions
Part 2. Basic principles of national application
Part 3. Basic principles of international application: Free flow and legitimate restrictions
Part 4. National implementation
Part 5. International co-operation
The development of automatic data processing, which enables vast quantities of data to be transmitted within seconds across
national frontiers, and indeed across continents, has made it necessary to consider privacy protection in relation to personal
data. Privacy protection laws have been introduced, or will be introduced shortly, in approximately one half of OECD
Member countries (Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United States have
passed legislation. Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland have prepared draft bills) to prevent what are
considered to be violations of fundamental human rights, such as the unlawful storage of personal data, the storage of
inaccurate personal data, or the abuse or unauthorised disclosure of such data.
On the other hand, there is a danger that disparities in national legislations could hamper the free flow of personal data across
frontiers; these flows have greatly increased in recent years and are bound to grow further with the widespread introduction
of new computer and communications technology. Restrictions on these flows could cause serious disruption in important
sectors of the economy, such as banking and insurance.
For this reason, OECD Member countries considered it necessary to develop Guidelines which would help to harmonise
national privacy legislation and, while upholding such human rights, would at the same time prevent interruptions in
international flows of data. They represent a consensus on basic principles which can be built into existing national
legislation, or serve as a basis for legislation in those countries which do not yet have it.
The Guidelines, in the form of a Recommendation by the Council of the OECD, were developed by a group of government
experts under the chairmanship of The Hon. Mr. Justice M.D. Kirby, Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission.
The Recommendation was adopted and became applicable on 23 September 1980.
The Guidelines are accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum intended to provide information on the discussion and
reasoning underlining their formulation.
OECD Council Recommendation
RECOMMENDATION OF THE COUNCIL CONCERNING GUIDELINES GOVERNING THE PROTECTION OF
PRIVACY AND TRANSBORDER FLOWS OF PERSONAL DATA (23 September 1980)
Having regard to articles 1(c), 3(a) and 5(b) of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development of 14th December, 1960;
that, although national laws and policies may differ, Member countries have a common interest in protecting privacy and
individual liberties, and in reconciling fundamental but competing values such as privacy and the free flow of information;