APEC ministers approve privacy framework

The framework creates common privacy principles to boost ongoing efforts to increase cross-border trade and grow e-commerce.

Foreign and trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum have endorsed a privacy framework which will boost the security and integrity of information networks.

According to a statement released by the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group, the APEC Privacy Framework seeks to ensure the rapid cross-border flow of information and data while protecting consumers, businesses and governments from fraud and criminal activity.

The framework clarifies how information can be handled and will also improve information sharing among regulators and government agencies to enable the safe transfer of information between economies.

Josette S. Shiner, United States' Under Secretary of State, said the framework creates a set of common privacy principles that will make a significant contribution to APEC's ongoing efforts to increase cross-border trade and grow e-commerce.

"It is crucial that information being transmitted electronically is able to move quickly across borders while at the same time offering peace of mind that the information is secure," Shiner said.

"The range and number of electronic transactions taking place around the region grows every day. This includes activities such as the transferring of funds, purchases made over the Internet, credit card transactions and sensitive corporate information that is sent from one computer to another.

"Our economy is dependent on having functional information networks and the APEC Privacy Framework boosts the security and integrity of this vital infrastructure," the Under Secretary added.

The APEC Secretariat and Microsoft have also signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of the APEC Information Management Portal.

The portal provides a Web-based integrated platform for creating and managing projects, meetings and policy initiatives, thereby enhancing APEC productivity and organizational effectiveness. The system includes a Less Paper Meeting System. The portal is expected to improve collaboration capacity and knowledge sharing between APEC Member Economies and private sector representatives involved in APEC's work.

Ministers from the 21 member economies are in Busan, South Korea, for their two-day annual talks.