Privacy update prompted by net growth

The world's leading industrialised nations have been forced to update privacy laws made obsolete by the huge volume of data moving around the net.

Of particular concern to the 30 OECD states was the increasing amount of personal data flowing between nations.

These cross-border torrents made it tricky to prevent unlawful use of people's data and for authorities to enforce existing laws, the OECD said.

The newly adopted recommendations update a 27-year-old agreement.

The 1980 guidelines laid the foundations of privacy laws amongst OECD states but did not account for the internet age, with instant access to global information.

"The initiative is motivated by a recognition that changes in the character and volume of cross-border data flows have elevated privacy risks for individuals and highlighted the need for better co-operation among the authorities charged with providing them protection," read an OECD statement.

The recommendations are meant to augment member countries' existing privacy laws to aid co operation between different enforcement agencies.

This is important, says the OECD, as most agencies only have jurisdiction in their own country. Investigations or complaints are difficult to pursue across borders.

"A consensus has emerged on the need to promote closer co-operation among privacy law enforcement authorities to help them exchange information and carry out investigations with their foreign counterparts," read the recommendations.

OECD member states have already begun to set up formal procedures to help co-ordinate these requests.

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