The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an influential research and policy-making body that sets international standards on a wide range of issues including communications technologies and the future of the Internet. The OECD is comprised of 34 member countries, which include mostly developed nations, but also emerging states such as Mexico, Chile and Turkey. It provides a forum for comparative policy discussions between governments that seek answers to common problems, identify best practices and encourage coordination between domestic and international policies.
The OECD was established in 1961. Very early in its history, OECD member countries recognized the importance of consulting with international non-governmental organizations. In 1962, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) and Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) began to participate in the work of the OECD. Civil society groups fought for equal status with the BIAC and TUAC for more than a decade.
In 1998, civil society representatives from the Public Voice Coalition organized a symposium just prior to the OECD Ministerial in Ottawa, Canada, to provide civil society input into the OECD’s developing policies on Internet commerce. However, it was not until 2008, at the OECD Ministerial Conference on the Future of the Internet Economy, that the OECD Secretary General expressed support for an effort to formalize the participation of civil society. In December 2008, the OECD Committee for Information Computer and Communications Policy (ICCP), the primary committee for OECD decision-making on Internet policy, accepted a proposal from the Technical Community to create The Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC) and from the Public Voice Coalition to create the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC). The CSISAC is the voice of civil society participants at the OECD-ICCP Committee. EFF is an elected member of the CSISAC Steering Committee.
The OECD is structured in divisions. The OECD has an independent and highly-educated secretariat staff that conducts research, holds experts workshops, and produces reports. These usually culminate in OECD Council recommendations – OECD policy recommendations to member governments that are extensively vetted and formally approved through a consensus process by OECD’s member government representatives. These recommendations often form the basis of national laws and are highly influential. For instance, the 1980 OECD Privacy Guidelines, revised in 2013, established international consensus standards on the collection and disclosure of personal information that form the basis of many countries’ privacy laws.
The OECD carries out most of its policy development work through its committees, working parties and volunteer groups. The OECD’s ICCP is organized into four working parties that address a range of issues of interest to CSISAC members from IP policy to online privacy to green growth. The ICCP meets in full committee twice a year, and each working party also meets twice a year. CSISAC participates in the ICCP’s working parties and in the crosscutting policy development work at the ICCP committee level. We participate in several multi-stakeholder volunteer groups (with government, business, and IT industry representatives), providing civil society’s views on working documents, providing expert speakers for workshops and forums, and by disseminating policy recommendations to CSISAC’s more than 80 member organizations.
The ICCP’s working parties in which CSISAC participates are:
The Working Party on the Information Economy (WPISP), which develops policies on information security and privacy issues, including the revision of the 1980 OECD Privacy guidelines, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and smart grids, among others.
The Working Party on Communications and Infrastructure Services Policy (WPCISP), which reviews telecommunications and Internet policies, including regulatory reform, and the convergence of telecommunication, Internet, cable television, and broadcasting networks.