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US First To Participate In APEC Cross-Border Privacy System

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

02 August 2012

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Electronic Commerce Steering Group has announced that the United States will become the first participant in the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) System, which was endorsed by the APEC Economic Leaders when they met in Honolulu in November 2011.

The CBPR System is designed to promote region-wide privacy policy compatibility, protect consumers and lower regulatory compliance costs throughout the Asia Pacific region. The voluntary, certification-based system promotes a consistent baseline set of data privacy practices for companies doing business in participating APEC economies.

It has been pointed out that APEC’s 21 member economies account for 55% of global gross domestic product, as well as 44% percent of world trade, with a market of 2.7bn consumers. Its CBPR System is expected to further open markets and facilitate regional trade.

Chair of the Electronic Commerce Steering Group, Lourdes Yaptinchay, said: “Participation in the System requires interested organizations to develop internal business rules on cross-border privacy procedures in line with it, (as) the goal of the System is to enhance electronic commerce, facilitate trade and economic growth, and strengthen consumer privacy protections across the Asia Pacific region, thereby promoting regional economic integration.”

Acting US Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank added that the initiative is a significant milestone in international data protection - “this system will enable participating companies in the US and other APEC member economies to exchange data more efficiently in a secure manner and will enhance consumer data privacy by establishing a consistent level of protection and accountability in the APEC region. We are committed to working with our trading partners in APEC to help maximize its implementation throughout the region.”

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was named as the first privacy enforcement authority. “APEC privacy rules offer the promise of significant benefits to companies, consumers and privacy regulators, and the FTC is pleased to be the first privacy enforcement authority in the APEC CBPR System,” FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez commented. “We hope that many more APEC economies will soon join and help realize the system's potential as a model for global interoperability among privacy regimes.”

The FTC, the Department of Commerce, US corporations and privacy advocacy organizations worked together with their counterparts in other APEC economies to formulate the APEC privacy rules.

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