CouncilEurope

Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data

(ETS No. 108)

Open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, on 28 January 1981.

Entry into force: 1 October 1985.

Summary of the treaty

This Convention is the first binding international instrument which protects the individual against abuses which may accompany the collection and processing of personal data and which seeks to regulate at the same time the transfrontier flow of personal data.

In addition to providing guarantees in relation to the collection and processing of personal data, it outlaws the processing of "sensitive" data on a person's race, politics, health, religion, sexual life, criminal record, etc., in the absence of proper legal safeguards. The Convention also enshrines the individual's right to know that information is stored on him or her and, if necessary, to have it corrected.

Restriction on the rights laid down in the Convention are only possible when overriding interests (e.g. State security, defence, etc.) are at stake.

The Convention also imposes some restrictions on transborder flows of personal data to States where legal regulation does not provide equivalent protection.