While Google is leading a charge to create a global privacy standard for how companies protect consumer data, the search giant is recommending that remedies focus on whether a person was actually harmed by having the information exposed.
Google's proposal is scheduled to be presented by Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel in a speech Friday in Strasbourg, France, at UNESCO's meeting on ethics and human rights. He briefed reporters on Thursday.
The proposal follows the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Privacy Framework, which has been endorsed by many of the APEC nations, including Australia and Hong Kong, but not all. China, for instance, does not endorse it, Fleischer said.
"Google believes we need to work together to create minimum global standards partly by law and partly by self-regulation," he said in a telephone conference call. "We need a collaboration between government and the private sector."
The APEC framework "promotes a flexible approach to information privacy protection" and is a "practical policy approach to enable accountability in the flow of data while preventing impediments to trade," according to the group's fact sheet. The nine principles of the framework are: preventing harm; integrity of personal information; notice; security safeguards; collection limitations; access and correction; uses of personal information; accountability; and choice.
Under a "preventing harm" principle in the framework, "any remedial measures should be proportionate to the likelihood and severity of the harm," the documents state.
"Privacy standards should focus on actual harms to consumer privacy," Fleischer said. "Other countries have an ideological bent...APEC has a pragmatic focus on privacy harms...not abstractions."
Fleischer has been shopping the idea around, meeting with the Spanish Data Protection Authority a few days ago ("He welcomed it warmly") and the French counterpart, which endorsed it.
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