The Influence of European Data Privacy Standards Outside Europe: Implications for Globalisation of Convention 108

36 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2011 Last revised: 5 May 2014

See all articles by Graham Greenleaf

Graham Greenleaf

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 19, 2011


Seventy-eight countries, from almost all regions of the world, have now enacted data privacy laws covering most of their private sectors. Enactment of laws outside Europe is accelerating. Before long, the majority of the world’s data privacy laws will be found outside Europe. This geo-political change has implications.

First, by examining the most important differences between the two European privacy standards (the EU Directive and the Council of Europe Convention 108) and the two non-European standards (the OECD Guidelines and APEC Framework), it is possible to identify what can reasonably be characterised as ‘European influences’ on data privacy laws outside Europe. Examination of the current 29 national data privacy laws outside Europe shows that the ‘European standards’ have had by far the greater influence outside Europe, and this is increasing.

Second, the Council of Europe data Protection Convention (Convention 108) and its Additional Protocol are examined from the perspective of the possibility and desirability of their becoming a global international agreement on data privacy. It is argued that there are potential considerable advantages to both non-European and European states if Convention 108 (plus the Additional Protocol) were to become a global privacy agreement through accession of non-European states. However, for such globalisation to occur, the Council of Europe will have to settle and publicise appropriate policies on accession that are appropriate, transparent, and do not reduce European data privacy standards.

Europe has no reason to retreat from its privacy standards developed over forty years. The rest of the world is moving its way, and it should not compromise fundamental standards for the sake of compromise with powerful outliers, particularly the USA and China. Respect for their domestic prerogatives should not be confused with any need to reduce fundamental aspects of global data privacy standards.

Suggested Citation

Greenleaf, Graham, The Influence of European Data Privacy Standards Outside Europe: Implications for Globalisation of Convention 108 (October 19, 2011). International Data Privacy Law, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2012; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2011-39; Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2012/12. Available at SSRN:

Graham Greenleaf (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney, New South Wales 2052
+61 2 9385 2233 (Phone)
+61 2 9385 1175 (Fax)


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