Privacy authorities seek global exposure

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In a StreetView world.

Thirteen data protection authorities from around the globe hope to gain a better grasp of other nation's privacy regimes under the new Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN), announced Wednesday.

GPEN contains authorities that operate under widely-varied enforcement regimes, including the US, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Canada.

The information-sharing network comes as data protection authorities continue to grapple with digital privacy, while others, such as Germany, have promised to strengthen domestic privacy laws following Google's global StreetView data breach.

Authorities around the world responded to that breach with varying degrees of severity, with the UK clearing Google of a breach while authorities in Spain, South Korea and Italy continue to investigate its StreetView campaign.

The Australian Office of the Privacy Commissioner found Google had invaded Australians' privacy.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced yesterday that the country would bolster its privacy laws by December in light of Google's breach.

GPEN aims to share "effective investigative techniques and enforcement strategies", but members' participation in its action plans will be subject to domestic laws.

"This Action Plan does not provide a legally binding mechanism for Participants to exchange information about specific investigations and cases," reads a notice on the GPEN website.

The Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner was the only state-based participant while US participation in GPEN will be led by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

"Cooperation is critical in the enforcement of privacy laws. GPEN will provide us with the necessary tools to facilitate cooperation with our international counterparts," said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the US FTC.

Members will meet in Israel next month at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

Yoram Hacohen, head of the Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority, said he would invite security, competition, consumer protection and data protection authorities to the conference to discuss better cross-border cooperation.

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