Canada Confirmed as Member Of APEC Privacy Rules Initiative

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Peter Menyasz

April 15 — Canada has been accepted as a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's Cross-Border Privacy Rules System, joining the U.S., Mexico and Japan as the fourth APEC economy to join the voluntary consumer data privacy program, according to an April 15 statement by APEC's Electronic Commerce Steering Group.

A Joint Oversight Panel within the Electronic Commerce Steering Group approved Canada's application, submitted in August 2014, based on a review of its domestic laws and regulations, as well as its plans to enforce commitments to the multinational initiative, according to the statement.

Increased participation in the program is critical as the volume and speed of personal data crisscrossing the Asia-Pacific region intensify, Mitsuo Matsumoto, the steering group's chairman and director of the Commerce and Information Policy Bureau in Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said in the statement.

Keeping a lid on fraud and other security threats in a way that limits barriers to legitimate data flows that fuel trade and economic growth is what the APEC system is all about, he said. The key now is expanding it.

The steady stream of new participants in the system is encouraging, both in terms of moving towards its region-wide adoption and making the case for its interoperability with other privacy regimes, such as the one in the European Union, Matsumoto added.

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien April 15 welcomed Canada's acceptance into the system, as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada was involved in the initial development of the APEC initiative.

“We believe that by raising the level of privacy protection throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the CBPR process can indirectly enhance protections for Canadians whose personal information is processed in Asia-Pacific jurisdictions,” Therrien said in a statement provided to Bloomberg BNA.

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig April 15 welcomed Canada's participation in the CBPR System. “Canada’s participation in the system marks an important milestone on achieving the commitment of all APEC leaders to join the APECCBPR,” Selig said in a Commerce Department statement. “I look forward to working with my counterparts in the APEC economies to ensure more are able to join the system in the near future.”

U.S. Was First Country Approved.

The CBPR System is based on the nine privacy principles set out in the APEC Privacy Framework, which APEC member economies endorsed in 2004 and officially launched in 2005. APECleaders pledged to implement the system in a November 2011 declaration).

The system requires business entities in participating economies to develop internal rules on cross-border data privacy procedures, which must comply with minimum requirements based on the APEC Privacy Framework and must be verified by an independent public or private sector accountability agent.

The U.S. was the first country approved to join the initiative in 2012, followed by Mexico in 2013 and Japan in 2014.

The CBPR System is expected to be an important item on the agenda of the May 23-24 meeting of APEC trade ministers in Boracay, Philippines, according to the Electronic Commerce Steering Group's statement.


By Peter Menyasz

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