The Council of Europe is promoting international co-operation in the field of personal data protection, in particular by encouraging non member states to ratify the Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, also known as Convention 108. Uruguay has started the process for its ratification and therefore may become the first non-Council of Europe member state to accede to the convention.
Jörg Polakiewicz, head of the human rights policy and development department of the Council of Europe, was recently in Uruguay for the 34th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, which took place in Punta del Este. “The eventual accession of Uruguay will be a key step towards the global promotion of the convention and intergovernmental cooperation on personal data protection”, stated Polakiewicz, and added: “We are sure, hopefully, that Uruguay will be the first of many non-European countries to join the treaty”.
This convention is the first binding international treaty which protects individuals against abuses which may accompany the collection and processing of personal data. Created in 1981, it remains the only legally-binding standard which has the potential to be applied worldwide, providing legal certainty and predictability in international relations and open for signature by any country.
The convention formulates a number of core data protection principles to be transferred to their national legislation, with the aim of ensuring that personal data are obtained and processed fairly and lawfully, stored for specified and legitimate purposes, preserved in a form which permits its identification for no longer than is required and that any person is enable to access, rectify or delete their personal data.
An additional protocol demands to each signing Party to designate an independent authority to ensure the implementation of the data protection principles and imposes some restrictions on transborder flows of personal data to States where legal regulation does not provide equivalent protection.
The Council of Europe, an intergovermental organisation based in Strasbourg (France) which brings together 47 states, is inviting non-member-states to request access to the Convention, which has already been ratified by 44 States.
In addition to Uruguay, Mexico is another non European state that has shown interest in joining the convention.