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:

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