EU, India, 8 other countries call for international cooperation on personal data protection

The European Union and nine countries, including India, on Monday, called for fostering international cooperation to promote high data protection and privacy standards based on certain core elements increasingly shared across the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and beyond.

In a ‘Joint Declaration on Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data: Strengthening trust in the digital environment’, the European Union, Australia, Comoros, India, Japan, Mauritius, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and Sri Lanka said rapid technological developments, in particular in information and digital technologies, have brought benefits for their economies and societies, as well as new challenges for privacy and the protection of personal data.

To foster data free flow with trust, which, as also acknowledged by the G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration, is key to harness the opportunities of the digital economy, it is vital to ensure, as guaranteed by these countries’ respective legal frameworks, respect for individuals’ right to privacy and the protection of personal data as a core value and fundamental freedom, said the declaration shared by the Ministry of External Affairs.

The EU and the countries that issued the joint declaration said the lack of trust in how data is handled has negatively impacted their diverse societies and economies, as individuals and communities may be reluctant to adopt new technologies, public authorities could be hesitant to share personal data with foreign partners and commercial exchanges may face obstacles.

“In sum, without trust, our societies are not able to fully embrace and realise the benefits of the digital revolution, which are in turn key to development and in particular for achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Goals,” the declaration said.

“Together, we share a common vision of a human-centric approach to such transformation, where the effective protection of personal data plays a crucial role and is a key enabler for cross-border cooperation,” it said.

To achieve this goal, the EU and the nine countries said they intend to foster international cooperation to promote high data protection and privacy standards based on certain core elements increasingly shared across the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and beyond.

They called for comprehensive legal frameworks and policies covering both the private and public sectors.
They underlined core principles such as lawfulness, fairness, transparency, purpose limitation, data minimisation, limited data retention, data security and accountability.

They also called for enforceable rights of individuals, such as access, rectification, deletion, and safeguards with respect to automated decision-making such as transparency and the possibility to challenge the outcome.

The joint declaration emphasised on safeguards for international transfers to enable cross-border data flows by ensuring that the protection travels with the data.

It also called for independent oversight by a dedicated supervisory authority and effective redress. “We commit to foster and further develop international policy discussions and cooperation regarding data protection and cross-border data flows with trust, both bilaterally and multilaterally, in order to promote this shared vision and increase convergence amongst our data protection frameworks,” the statement said.

In a world where data moves easily between jurisdictions, this also increasingly requires close cooperation, in compliance with the relevant applicable legal frameworks, among supervisory authorities across borders, it said.

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