International Instruments Relating to Privacy Law
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This document is a partner to pages on Privacy Laws of the Commonwealth of Australia and on Privacy Laws of the States and Territories of Australia
This document endeavours to provide access to the many international instruments that influence privacy laws in jurisdictions all over the world. Particularly important instruments are in bold-face type. If you're aware of errors or omissions, please tell me.
The document is at http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html. It includes:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
This was adopted in 1965, and entered into force in 1969. The document is at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx
This was adopted in 1966, and entered into force in 1976. The document is at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx
This was adopted in 1979, and entered into force in 1981. The document is at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CEDAW.aspx
This was adopted in 1984, and entered into force in 1987. The document is at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx
This was adopted on 20 November 1989, and entered into force on 2 September 1990. The document is at http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx. It includes:
This was adopted by the General Assembly on 14 December 1990. The UN's web-site management is so incredibly incompetent that it's very difficult to find. Try https://epic.org/privacy/intl/guidelines_for_the_regulation_.html
This was adopted in 2006, and entered into force in 2008. The document is at https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.htmlx
The document is at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1980/23.html. UN organisations are incapable of sustaining any URL for longer than a couple of years. So here's a mirror of the original ICCPR document.
For an overview of the many Articles that relate to privacy, see Clarke (2014). The most-often-quoted is:
The ICCPR is the subject of a General Comment (1988), at http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/INT_CCPR_GEC_6624_E.doc. And here's a mirror of that document. This includes clarification of the sloppy wording in Art. 17.2. The UN declares that "The obligations imposed by [Art. 17] require the State to adopt legislative and other measures to give effect to the prohibition against such interferences and attacks as well as to the protection of this right".
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's:
Note that the OECD is all about economic development, and social issues and civil liberties are constraints / nuisances.
Here is the OECD's Information and Security page.
And be warned the OECD's site appears to have been outsourced to some organisation that cares little for sustaining longstanding links. As a fallback measure, here is a mirror of the 1980 Principles
The document is at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/005.htm. It includes:
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
(Lee Bygrave comments that Article 8 uses language similar to but not identical with UDHR Article 12, that it sets out the criteria for justifying interference with private life, and that it has generated a great deal of case law).
Convention No 108 is at http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/108.
There is an Additional Protocol regarding supervisory authorities and transborder data flows (2001), at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/181.htm
Convention 185 is at https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/rms/0900001680081561.
The E.U. has a considerable collection of laws and institutions relating to Data Protection.
Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.
The primary document is EU Directive 95/46/EC, mirrored here.
The EU provides a page listing EU Legislative Documents and case law relating to Data Protection
[Warning: The EU has an atrocious track-record of reorganising its web-sites every few years and breaking all bookmarks]
Here's a copy of the thoroughly inadequate 'Safe Harbor' document that the EC let US corporations get away with for well over a decade until the EU courts got a chance to rule on it.
Here's the also inadequate 'Privacy Shield' that the EC permitted to be substituted for 'Privacy Safe Harbor'. It hasn't been evaluated by the courts yet.
Until the EU publishes an accessible and adequate-quality copy, use this document.
The 'Privacy Shield' arrangements will be even more inadequate in comparison with the GDPR, but it might take a decade of privacy abuse before the EU courts get a chance to review it.
The APEC Privacy Framework was approved in November 2004.
APEC's web-site management is just as incompetent as that of the other international agencies. (And that's in addition to it being dominated by the USA, and hence highly anti-privacy in its stance). So here's a mirror.
The [Inter-]American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Art V)
The [Inter-]American Convention on Human Rights (Art 11)
African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection  IDPrivAgmt 1 (24 June 2014)
Valuable resources on the web are as follows:
In print, see:
This resource could be developed only by standing on the shoulders of giants, namely:
Thanks also to other contributors, particularly Lee Bygrave and Graham Greenleaf.
The content and infrastructure for these community service pages are provided by Roger Clarke through his consultancy company, Xamax.
From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 50 million in early 2015.
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Created: 31 May 2000 - Last Amended: 27 March 2017 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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