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International Privacy Standards

As the Internet grows, so too do concerns about privacy and confidentiality. Many countries and organizations are looking at legal and technical approaches to privacy protection for the global information infrastructure.

Important International Documents

  • Draft COE Declaration on Freedom of Communication on the Internet. November 29, 2002.
  • Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that " 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."
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also includes a provision for privacy protection similar to the article in the Universal Declaration.
  • The OECD Guidelines is one of the primary documents for international privacy protection. The Guidelines were set out in 1981 and concern primarily stored data.
  • The Council of Europe Convention is another European approach to privacy protection from 1981. Its requirements are binding on all signatory countries.
  • The EC Data Protection Directive is the current focus of privacy discussion in Europe. The directive attempts to harmonize the various national privacy laws in Europe to promote European-wide commerce. The current version is likely to undergo further changes before it is finally adopted by the European Community.


  • Privacy International maintains a privacy archive of international materials on privacy protection, including laws, treaties, and proposed standards.
  • EPIC offers a comprehensive guide to privacy resources including organizations, publications, net publications, and other material.