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International review of criminal policy - Nos. 43 and 44/SUBSTANTIVE CRIMINAL LAW PROTECTING PRIVACY/Background

A. Background

127. Unlike the legal rules concerning corporeal objects, information law does not only consider the economic interests of the proprietor or holder but also takes into account the interests of persons concerned with the content of information. Before the invention of computers, the legal protection of persons in regard to the content of information was limited. Few provisions existed in the criminal law other than those in relation to libel. Since the 1970s, however, new technologies have expanded the possibilities of collecting, storing, accessing, comparing, selecting, linking and transmitting data, thereby causing new threats to privacy. This has prompted many countries to enact new elements of administrative, civil and penal regulations, as discussed in paragraphs 128-132. Various international measures, outlined in paragraphs 133-145, support this evolution by developing a common approach to privacy protection.

This work is excerpted from an official document of the United Nations. The policy of this organisation is to keep most of its documents in the public domain in order to disseminate "as widely as possible the ideas (contained) in the United Nations Publications".

Pursuant to UN Administrative Instruction ST/AI/189/Add.9/Rev.2 available in English only, these documents are in the public domain worldwide:

  1. Official records (proceedings of conferences, verbatim and summary records, ...)
  2. United Nations documents issued with a UN symbol
  3. Public information material designed primarily to inform the public about United Nations activities (not including public information material that is offered for sale).