If your company does business in the Asia-Pacific region — or if you work with clients from that part of the global economy — you’ll want to follow recent developments in the privacy arena. This week, the FTC welcomed the approval by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) of a new initiative to harmonize cross-border data privacy protection among members of APEC. The initiative is designed to enhance the protection of consumer data that moves between APEC members at a time when more consumer information is moving across national borders.
On November 13th, President Obama and heads of state from other APEC economies (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) endorsed the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules at a meeting in Honolulu. The APEC privacy system is a self-regulatory code of conduct designed to create more consistent privacy protections for consumers when their data moves between economies with different privacy regimes in the APEC region. The FTC, the Department of Commerce, U.S. corporations, and privacy advocacy organizations worked with their counterparts in other APEC economies to formulate the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules. APEC member economies expect to launch the new privacy system next year.
The new APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules are a pragmatic way to bridge the gaps between different legal systems and privacy regimes in the APEC region and thus they have the potential to significantly benefit consumers, companies, and privacy regulators.
Is your business interested in participating in the APEC privacy system? Companies will undergo a third-party review and certification process that will examine corporate privacy policies and practices and enforce the new privacy rules. In addition, the FTC and privacy authorities from APEC economies that choose to participate in the program will serve as government backstop enforcers of the APEC privacy rules.