What are the Fair Information Practices? | FIPPs

The Fair Information Practice Principles, or FIPPs, are a set of principles for data privacy that many organizations follow today.

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After reading this article you will be able to:

  • List the Fair Information Practices
  • Describe how the FIPPs developed
  • Explain why the FIPPs are so widely referenced

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What are the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs)?

The Fair Information Practices, also known as the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), are a set of eight principles regarding data usage, collection, and privacy. They were published in 1980 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and a number of countries agreed upon them in principle.

Although not officially part of any privacy legislation, these principles continue to be relevant and influential today. Many organizations use them as guidance for how to handle personal data. Several of the principles listed in the FIPPs are included in important privacy frameworks like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The eight Fair Information Practice Principles are:

  1. Collection Limitation Principle. There should be limits to the collection of personal data and any such data should be obtained by lawful and fair means and, where appropriate, with the knowledge or consent of the data subject.
  2. Data Quality Principle. Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which they are to be used, and, to the extent necessary for those purposes, should be accurate, complete and kept up-to-date.
  3. Purpose Specification Principle. The purposes for which personal data are collected should be specified not later than at the time of data collection and the subsequent use limited to the fulfillment of those purposes or such others as are not incompatible with those purposes and as are specified on each occasion of change of purpose.
  4. Use Limitation Principle. Personal data should not be disclosed, made available or otherwise used for purposes other than those specified in accordance with [the Purpose Specification Principle] except: a) with the consent of the data subject; or b) by the authority of law.
  5. Security Safeguards Principle. Personal data should be protected by reasonable security safeguards against such risks as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure of data.
  6. Openness Principle. There should be a general policy of openness about developments, practices and policies with respect to personal data. Means should be readily available of establishing the existence and nature of personal data, and the main purposes of their use, as well as the identity and usual residence of the data controller.
  7. Individual Participation Principle. An individual should have the right:
    1. to obtain from a data controller, or otherwise, confirmation of whether or not the data controller has data relating to him;
    2. to have communicated to him, data relating to him within a reasonable time; at a charge, if any, that is not excessive; in a reasonable manner; and in a form that is readily intelligible to him;
    3. to be given reasons if a request made under subparagraphs (a) and (b) is denied, and to be able to challenge such denial; and
    4. to challenge data relating to him and, if the challenge is successful to have the data erased, rectified, completed or amended.
  8. Accountability Principle. A data controller should be accountable for complying with measures which give effect to the principles stated above.

How did the Fair Information Practices develop?

The FIPPs as they currently appear are based on recommendations proposed by an advisory committee to the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1973. The committee's report noted that "Safeguards for personal privacy based on our concept of mutuality in record-keeping would require adherence by record-keeping organizations to certain fundamental principles of fair information practice." It then went on to describe several principles for data protection.

In 1980 the OECD expanded those recommendations and divided them into the eight FIPPs listed above. Since then, the FIPPs have been referenced many times, especially in the US. They continue to form an important part of data privacy and data protection guidelines.

Are the Fair Information Practices part of any privacy legislation?

The FIPPs are not part of any official or legal requirements. However, they have been the basis for several different privacy guidelines. They also reflect many widely accepted privacy principles appearing in other official privacy frameworks.

For instance, the Individual Participation principle (No. 7) lists a number of rights that people should have. The CCPA codified some of these into law: it includes a "right to know," much like what is described in parts a) and b) of the Individual Participation principle. The GDPR also includes a "right to erasure," similar to the ability to "have data erased" as described by part d) of the Individual Participation principle.

As another example, the FIPPs Data Quality principle has a counterpart in the GDPR: Article 5 requires that personal data be "accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay."

It is important to note that these privacy frameworks do not exactly match the FIPPs in their descriptions and requirements. Organizations that want to comply with the GDPR, the CCPA, or any other privacy legislation need to make sure they follow the requirements of those specific pieces of legislation, not just the FIPPs.

Does Cloudflare follow the Fair Information Practices?

All Cloudflare employees are required to take data protection training that introduces them to the Fair Information Practices, in addition to the GDPR and other important data protection laws. Also, Cloudflare has released a number of products (some of which are free) to enhance user privacy. These products include:

To learn more about Cloudflare's commitment to data privacy, read the latest updates on the Cloudflare blog.