OneTrust_Square Banner_300x250_DD_ROS_01_19

By John Kropf, CIPP/US, CIPP/G, and Malcolm Crompton, CIPP/US

The steady stream of media reports on the privacy differences between the EU and the U.S. would have you believe that cross-border data sharing is nothing but storm clouds over the Atlantic. There is, however, a bright spot for cross-border information flows if we turn our attention to the Pacific.   The forecast for this part of the world appears to be fair weather and blue skies, and the data protection authorities (DPAs) in Brussels are taking note.   

The Challenge: Interoperability

Global data flows are accelerating. At the same time, data privacy laws around the world are proliferating. Around the Asia-Pacific rim, for example, of the 21 economies that comprise the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), nearly a dozen have introduced or updated laws that protect personal information privacy since 2010. The EU, which represents the largest economy in the world, is working to strengthen its already-stringent data protection law. This has a far-reaching impact on data flows worldwide. The EU has found very few jurisdictions to meet its adequacy requirements.   Add to this the calls in recent months by EU data protection authorities and certain members of the European Parliament to suspend the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor agreement, one of the most widely utilized cross-border sharing arrangements between the EU and its largest trading partner. If the tension between the EU and U.S. can be expected to inhibit the holy grail of privacy interoperability, are there other regions that hold greater promise?

Look To Asia-Pacific: APEC’s Steady Progress

The 21 economies of APEC are a region to watch. APEC represents 40 percent of the world’s population, 54 percent of the world’s GDP and 40 percent of world trade—and growing fast. In the last 10 years, APEC has made steady progress in establishing a regional privacy framework that maximizes privacy protection while facilitating cross-border information flows. In brief, here is a snapshot of APEC’s progress:

  • 2004 — APEC issues a privacy framework, based on a set of nine principles
  • 2010 — APEC Cross-Border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA) commences
  • November 2011 — APEC announces the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system
  • September 2012 — U.S. announces that it will become the first participant in the APEC CBPR system.
  • August 2013 — IBM becomes the first company certified under the CBPR system

CBPRs are a set of enforceable rules developed by an organization based on APEC Privacy Principles. The organization commits to apply these rules to its activities involving transfers of personal information across borders. Compliance with the rules and management of any complaints and investigations is achieved through a series of third-party accountability agents as the first line of defense. Privacy enforcement authorities through the CPEA provide the enforcement spine as a second line of defense if needed. In August, IBM became the first company certified under the CBPR system.

The EU Takes Interest

At the same time APEC has been developing the CBPR system, the EU has been experiencing a slow-but-steady increase in the use of Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs). Multinationals have increasingly seen BCRs as a way of undertaking cross-border transfers within the company group even if some group members are not within the EU. BCRs for some of these companies have become a de facto baseline for their global compliance and accountability programs.   

In January 2012, the EU sent DPA representatives to the APEC meeting in Jakarta to review APEC’s CBPR system and compare it with the EU. EU interest led to a formal joint review between European DPAs—the Article 29 Working Party—and the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup to determine where the systems share similarities, where there are potential gaps and how the two might work together. That review is still underway.   

External commentators have noted that there are some substantial similarities between BCRs and CBPR. Both systems require internal policies and procedures to be implemented with protections enforced externally. Further, the level of data protection can be viewed as following similar principles with some exceptions within each system. In terms of significant differences, BCRs operate globally within an organizational structure (intra-company transfers) while the CBPR system applies to transfers between the geography of the participating APEC economies, including between unrelated participating organizations.   

In sum, if the results of the comparison are substantial similarities, the two systems may provide a potential basis for connecting two of the world's largest economic powers.  

The synergies of the CBPR-BCR systems have the potential to become the brightest spot on the horizon for finding interoperability among two enormous economic regions. From a business standpoint, compatibility between CBPR and BCR could offer an effective approach to developing a solution to sharing cross-border data sharing globally. For now, keep watching for blue skies over the Pacific.

John Kropf, CIPP/US, CIPP/G, serves as Reed Elsevier’s deputy counsel for privacy and information governance. John previously served as the deputy chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security's Privacy Office and as an attorney advisor for U.S. Department of State. He is also the author of the Guide to U.S. Government Practice on Global Sharing of Personal Information as well as numerous articles on global and strategic privacy issues.

Malcolm Crompton, CIPP/US, is managing director of Information Integrity Solutions Pty Ltd, a global consultancy that works with public- and private-sector organisations wishing to embed trust and privacy as core value propositions in their products and services. Malcolm was Privacy Commissioner of Australia from 1999-2004 and founded IAPP Australia New Zealand (iappANZ) in 2008. He received the 2012 Privacy Leadership Award from IAPP in recognition of his global reputation and expertise in privacy.


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Talk privacy and network with local members at IAPP KnowledgeNet Chapter meetings, taking place worldwide.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

The Privacy Core™ Library Has Evolved

Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials just expanded to include seven new units for marketers. Keep your data safe and your staff in the know!

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Let’s Get You DPO Ready

There’s no better time to train than right now! We have all the resources you need to meet the challenges of the GDPR.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.


The IAPP’S CIPP/E and CIPM are the ANSI/ISO-accredited, industry-recognized combination for DPO readiness. Learn more today.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Are You Ready for the GDPR?

Check out the IAPP's EU Data Protection Reform page for all the tools and resources you need.

IAPP-OneTrust PIA Platform

New U.S. Government Agency privacy impact assessments - free to IAPP members!

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

More Resources »

Europe Data Protection Intensive 2017

The Intensive is sold out! But cancellations do happen—so hurry and get on the wait list in case more seats become available.

Global Privacy Summit 2017

The world’s premier privacy conference returns with the sharpest minds, unparalleled programs and preeminent networking opportunities. Early Bird ends TODAY.

Canada Privacy Symposium 2017

The Symposium returns to Toronto this spring and registration has opened! Take advantage of Early Bird rates and join your fellow privacy pros for another stellar program.

The Privacy Bar Section Forum 2017

The Privacy Bar Section Forum returns to Washington, DC April 21, delivering renowned keynote speakers and a distinguished panel of legal and privacy experts.

Asia Privacy Forum 2017

The Forum returns to Singapore for exclusive networking and intensive education on data protection trends and challenges in the Asia Pacific region. Call for Speakers open!

Privacy. Security. Risk. 2017

This year, we're bringing P.S.R. to San Diego. The Call for Speakers is now open. Submit today and be a part of something big! Submission deadline: February 26.

Europe Data Protection Congress 2017

European policy debate, multi-level strategic thinking and thought-provoking discussion. The Call for Speakers is open until March 19.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»