The Council of Europe is celebrating Data Protection Day, which commemorates the opening for signature on 28 January 1981 of "Convention 108", the Convention on the Protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data.
Convention 108 is the only legally binding treaty in the privacy field, harmonising protection on the basis of minimum standards. At present 44 states are bound by it and in the near future Uruguay will become the first non-European country to become a state party.
The convention is currently being updated to respond to new privacy concerns resulting from the use of new information technologies and to strengthen its follow-up mechanism. The aim is to offer robust protection across countries and jurisdictions. Close cooperation with the European Union will ensure consistency with the EU´s own data protection legal framework, which is also being reviewed.
The Consultative Committee recently adopted the first draft text of the updated convention, which will be examined by an intergovernmental Council of Europe committee in 2013, before being eventually submitted for adoption by the Committee of Ministers at a later stage.
The Council of Europe also provides technical support to countries, in particular in the form of legislative expertise and help with bringing national legislation into line with international personal data protection standards.
Data Protection Day was launched by the Council of Europe in 2006 and is celebrated across and beyond Europe to make personal data protection better known.