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APEC: Cross-Border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement Gains Two New Signatories

(Sept. 3, 2010) On August 27 and August 30, respectively, Canada and Hong Kong joined the Cross-Border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Australia, New Zealand, and the United States launched the CPEA on July 16, 2010; it had been in endorsed in November 2009 by those three states' trade and foreign affairs ministers at an APEC summit meeting in Singapore. Thus, five of APEC's 21 members are now signatories. (Murray Griffin, Data Protection: Hong Kong, Canada Join APEC Cross-Border Data Transfer Privacy Enforcement Coalition, PRIVACY LAW WATCH (Sept. 1, 2010), Bureau of National Affairs online subscription database,
; APEC Cooperation Arrangement for Cross-Border Privacy Enforcement, 2010/SOM1/ECSG/DPS/013 (Feb. 28, 2010), APEC Information Management Portal,

One aim of the CPEA is to facilitate information sharing among APEC economies' privacy enforcement authorities (e.g., privacy commissioners' offices, data protection authorities, and consumer protection authorities that enforce privacy laws). A second objective is to “provide mechanisms to promote effective cross-border cooperation” between privacy law enforcement authorities, “including through referrals of matters and through parallel or joint investigations or enforcement actions.” (Factsheet: APEC Cross-Border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA), APEC website (July 2010), In addition, the CPEA seeks to foster information sharing and cooperation with the relevant authorities outside APEC on privacy investigation and enforcement. Participation in the initiative is voluntary and non-binding; to take part, each privacy enforcement authority must have the endorsement of its national government. (Id.; Griffin, supra.)

In the statement announcing his office's joining the CPEA, Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Allan Chiang commented, “Hong Kong is a trading hub in the Asia Pacific where many organizations move information across borders as part of their business activities … . The CPEA will help in our investigation of violation of personal data privacy that involves cross-border data transfer.” (Griffin, supra.)

In the meantime, APEC is planning to implement a comprehensive data protection program in 2012; it will be enforceable among the APEC member economies and would allow the free flow of data, but protect data privacy and security. (Id.)