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Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: Report on Identity Theft

(July 2, 2008) In a report made public on June 13, 2008, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) urged its 30 Member States to make identity theft a stand-alone crime and to adopt laws on notification of national data breaches as a means of better combating identity theft. While some of the Member States have made identity theft a specific stand-alone crime, the report noted, “others regard it as a preparatory step in the commission of other wrongs or crimes.” (BNA, Identity Theft: OECD Urges Member States to Criminalize Identity Theft, Enact Breach Notice Laws, PRIVACY LAW WATCH, June 16, 2008, available at

Consideration should be given to creating a common definition of identity theft, harmonizing treatment of the offense as a stand-alone crime, and stiffening penalties, the report argues, which would augment international cooperation in fighting ID theft. “The lack of criminal laws prohibiting ID theft and the limited resources of dedicated law enforcement authorities may mean that there is insufficient deterrence,” the OECD report contended. “Given the rapid evolution of theft techniques and methods, more resources and training for authorities and law enforcement agencies [are] vital,” it added. (Id.) The OECD report also recommended the establishment of national standards for private sector data protection requirements, imposition on companies and other customer data storage organizations of an obligation to disclose data security breaches, and creation of national centers dedicated to the investigation of identity theft. (Id., with hyperlink to the report: OECD, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, Committee for Information, Computer and Security Policy, Scoping Paper on Online Identity Theft: Ministerial Background Report (DSTI/CP(2007)3/FINAL), OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy, Seoul, Korea, June 17-18, 2008, available at