The author was the Chair of the OECD Expert Group (1978-80) that drafted the OECD Guidelines on Privacy. He describes developments in privacy law and protection over the past 40 years by reference to the marriage tradition ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’.
The ‘Old’ is the foundation for privacy protection in international human rights law beginning in the Charter of the United Nations in 1945 and Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. The ‘Borrowed’ is the source materials for the OECD initiative derived from early laws in Nordic and other European countries. The ‘New’ is the Guidelines themselves. Here the author describes many of the key personalities and controversies that played a part in the development of the Guidelines. The ‘Blue’ includes the disappointments and failed attempts to update the Guidelines since 1980.
The article concludes with the establishment of the new Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy of the UN Human Rights Council (2015) and the challenges and fresh opportunities which this new global mandate offers.
Michael Kirby is the Chairman of the JLIS Board. He is an international jurist, educator and former judge. He served as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission (1975-83); Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84); Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (1983-4); President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-96); President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995-96) and Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009).
He has undertaken many international activities for the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the OECD and the Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He has also worked in civil society, being elected President of the International Commission of Jurists (1995-8). His recent international activities have included member of the Eminent Persons Group on the Future of the Commonwealth of Nations (2010-11); Commissioner of the UNDP Global Commission on HIV and the Law (2011-12); Chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on DPRK (North Korea) (2013-14); and Member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Essential Healthcare (2015-16). He is also heavily engaged in international arbitrations; domestic mediations; and teaching law. He is Honorary Professor at 12 Australian and overseas universities.
In 1990 he was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal. In 1998, he was named Laurette of the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education. In 2010 he was named co-winner of the Gruber Justice Prize. In 2011 he received the inaugural Australian Privacy Medal. The honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Laws and Doctor of the University have been conferred on him by universities in Australia and overseas. He lives in Sydney with his partner since 1969, Johan van Vloten.
© 2012 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.