Bucking Law Enforcement's Borders

New agreement could make it easier for cops to pursue privacy violators across geographic lines

An international body of 30 developed nations has quietly reached an agreement that may help law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute violators of privacy laws across international boundaries.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -- an organization that includes most of North America and Western Europe as well as Korea and Japan -- last month adopted new guidelines -- "Recommendation on Cross-Border Cooperation in the Enforcement of the Laws Protecting Privacy" -- that could make life tougher for international identity thieves and other privacy law violators.

Currently, many breakers of privacy laws escape because of the ham-handed handoff between law enforcement agencies in different countries, experts agree. (See New Laws Don't Solve Global Problems and Senate OKs Controversial Internet Treaty.)

The OECD agreement, in a nutshell, says the cops in the organization's 30 countries should help each other to nab these border-crossing perpetrators.

Initially, the recommendation focuses on ensuring that each member country has privacy laws in place, and that there are mechanisms for sharing information about privacy violators and a central authority for collecting that information. Having established an infrastructure, the document suggests methods for improving communication among agencies that enforce privacy laws.

The OECD does not include some of the nations most often reputed to harbor spammers and privacy violators, such as Nigeria and Russia. The recommendations do invite non-member countries to participate in the law enforcement effort.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading