What is the Global Privacy Enforcement Network?

James Chiodo, Certified Information Privacy Professional CIPP/US

The Federal Communications Commission FCC) announced that it has joined the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN).

“We live in an interconnected world where threats to consumer privacy and data security often require the cooperation of numerous law enforcement agencies around the world,” said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau.

“Every day Americans continue to have their personal data compromised by attacks from beyond our borders – like phone scams operated by identity thieves based thousands of miles away. If we are to detect, disrupt, and dismantle these persistent global privacy assaults, it is critical that we work closely with our international partners abroad, as well as our federal, state, and local partners here at home.”

What Is the Global Privacy Enforcement Network?

Privacy is a global concern and many nations have governmental authorities dedicated to protecting the privacy of citizens. The Global Privacy Enforcement Network is a collaboration of such agencies, designed to create cooperation between these governmental authorities. Presently, over 40 nations are a part of the network, including the United States. The two US authorities who participate in the global initiative are the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What Are the Goals of this Multi-National Organization?

First, GPEN unites these national authorities in order to have them discuss openly what can be done to protect the privacy of individual citizens. They look into practical ways that these privacy regulations can be enforced. Also, one of the biggest concerns with privacy is when boarders are crossed because then another nation’s regulations need to be relied upon. GPEN allows nations a forum in which to discuss such concerns.

With privacy enforcement, different nations have varying priorities. Having a coalition like GPEN to discuss such priorities allows nations to consider the priorities of other countries when enforcing privacy law at home.

The GPEN Plan of Action

In the modern global economy, personal and financial information crosses national borders on a daily basis. Privacy has never been as important, and worldwide data flow means that an individual’s data crosses into various jurisdictions with different privacy laws and enforcement policies. The GPEN was designed to create cooperation between the organizations in place in various governments to protect privacy.

GPEN started in 2010 with just 11 privacy authorities. To date, 27 authorities from around the world have committed to a revised plan of action that includes some of the following points of interest:

  • The GPEN mission statement includes the promoting of communication between privacy authorities in various nations. It is hoped the exchange of information between these organizations will help to identify trends in privacy concerns to address needed policy changes and practical means of enforcement.
  • Participation in GPEN is open to any public privacy authority that is responsible for enforcing privacy policies or investigating privacy issues within a nation.
  • GPEN meets regularly, facilitates investigations that include authorities from multiple member organizations, and provide training sessions for the promotion of good privacy practices.

The FTC is one of the 27 participating groups in this initiative.


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