2. Core Privacy Principles - The OECD Guidelines
Basic ideas about privacy protection emerged in the 1970's, dating back to the advent of the "Information Society" and the introduction of computers into various areas of economic and social activity. During this time period, there was a growing public perception that the greater need for information, and the proliferation of computerized systems, would result in a reduction in the power of individuals to control the personal information collected and stored about them. Computers were seen as a technology for processing large amounts of data quickly and cheaply and as a technology which concentrated enormous power in the hands of computer specialists and data processing managers. The combination of computer technology and telecommunications was already holding out the prospect of complex information and communications networks at the national and international level.6
In the 1970's the Member Countries of the OECD reached a consensus on issues related to the protection of privacy to promote the free flow of information across their borders and to prevent legal issues related to the protection of privacy from creating obstacles to the development of their economic and social relations. To this end, the OECD Council on September 23, 1980, adopted the Privacy Guidelines. The Guidelines were intended to form the basis of legislation in the organization's Members States.
At the core of the Guidelines is a set of eight principles to be applied to both the public and private sectors: (1) the collection limitation principle, (2) the data quality principle, (3) the purpose specification principle, (4) the use limitation principle, (5) the security safeguards principle, (6) the openness principle, (7) the individual participation principle and (8) the accountability principle. The OECD Guidelines are not legally binding on Member States. However, the Guidelines have been widely accepted and form the cornerstone of fair information practices designed to protect personal information around the world.7 The Canadian Federal Government affirmed its commitment to the OECD Guidelines in 1984. Rather than pass legislation applying these guidelines to the federally regulated public sector, the Federal Government committed itself to encouraging private sector corporations to develop and adopt voluntary privacy protection codes based upon the OECD Guidelines.
The OECD principles identified in the Guidelines outline the rights and obligations of individuals in the context of automated processing of personal data, and the rights and obligations of those who engage in such processing. The Guidelines apply to personal data, whether in the public or private sectors, which pose a danger to privacy and individual liberties because of the manner in which it is processed, or because of its nature or the context in which it is used. The core OECD privacy principles are as follows:
Collection Limitation Principle: There should be limits to the collection of personal data and any such data should be obtained by lawful and fair means and, where appropriate, with the knowledge or consent of the data subject.
Data Quality Principle: Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which they are to be used, and, to the extent necessary for those purposes, should be accurate, complete and kept up-to-date.
Purpose Specification Principle: The purposes for which personal data are collected should be specified not later than at the time of data collection and the subsequent use limited to the fulfilment of those purposes or such others as are not incompatible with those purposes and as are specified on each occasion of change of purpose.
Use Limitation Principle: Personal data should not be disclosed, made available or otherwise used for purposes other than those specified in accordance with [the Purpose Specification Principle] except: (a) with the consent of the data subject; or (b) by the authority of law.
Security Safeguards Principle: Personal data should be protected by reasonable security safeguards against such risks as loss or unauthorised access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure of data.
Openness Principle: There should be a general policy of openness about developments, practices and policies with respect to personal data. Means should be readily available of establishing the existence and nature of personal data, and the main purposes of their use, as well as the identity and usual residence of the data controller.
Individual Participation Principle: An individual should have the right: a) to obtain from a data controller, or otherwise, confirmation of whether or not the data controller has data relating to him; b) to have communicated to him, data relating to him within a reasonable time; at a charge, if any, that is not excessive; in a reasonable manner; and in a form that is readily intelligible to him; c) to be given reasons if a request made under subparagraphs (a) and (b) is denied, and to be able to challenge such denial; and d) to challenge data relating to him and, if the challenge is successful to have the data erased, rectified, completed or amended.
Accountability Principle: A data controller should be accountable for complying with measures which give effect to the principles stated above.
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