5. The UNESCO Handbook on the Formulation, Approval, Implementation and Operation of
a National Policy on Information, enumerates among the key issues of a National
Information Policy, the participation in international information activities including
such problem areas as Trans-Border Dataflow, Technology Transfer and Information
"Trans-Border Data Flow"("TDF") is a recently coined term that refers to the
transmission of data or information over national boundaries. Transmission can be
effected in a variety of ways, including the telephone and the mails, but recent concerns
over TDF center on the newer, and typically public, media of radio, television, and
computerized information. The broadcast media are of increasing concern because
technological and economic developments now permit direct home reception of satellite
transmissions. Although private homes equipped with dish-shaped antennas able to pick
up international signals are much the exception today, the growth of such home
antennas could easily pose serious problems for nations desiring to control the
"importation" of foreign radio and television programs.
The use of electronic means for information processing and the availability of
telecommunication facilities for information transfer provided revolutionary solutions
in Trans-Border Dataflow. The fusion of advanced electronic processing with modern
telecommunication facilities, and their speed accessibility provided the conditions
through which time and distance, as obstacle to large-scale information mobility, are
overcome and give Trans-Border Dataflow its new potency. Expansion of world trade
has also affected the growth of Trans-Border Dataflow. The internationalization of such
information – for industries such as banking, insurance, tourism and air transport –
intensified the need for mechanisms ensuring the instantaneous availability and
dissemination of data.
The spread of Transnational Corporations, the creation of Transnational Computer-
Communication Systems that permit the rapid transmission of large volumes of data,
and the emergence of the information economy in an interdependent world, also played
an important role in the development and improvement of Trans-Border Dataflow.
Most of the data transmitted in trans-border dataflow belongs to business and finance,
using both publicly and privately available channels.
The data used by Library and Information Services such as bibliographic data,
electronic document delivery or interlibrary loan and other technical services data, e.g.,
record transfer and acquisitions constitutes but a small percentage of the total Trans-
Border Dataflow. The task of estimating the current Trans-Border Dataflow of
bibliographic and other Library and Information Data is virtually impossible to
determine because of the lack of common indicators or denominators such as revenue
or volume of activity among the various groups actively involved.
6. CONTENTS PAGE NO.
1. Introduction 8-10
2. Objective of the Study 11
3. Definitions 12
3.1 Meaning of TDF
3.2 Definition of TDF
4. Trans-Border Dataflow Issues 14
4.1 Technological Issues 14
4.1.1 The problem raised by Trans-border Data Flow 14
188.8.131.52 The microprocessors
184.108.40.206 Data Networks
220.127.116.11.1 Local Area Networks (LANs)
18.104.22.168.2 Wide Area Networks (WANs)
22.214.171.124.3 Public Data Networks (PDN)…
126.96.36.199.4 Integrated Service Digital Networks (ISDN)
188.8.131.52.5 Mass storage technologies
4.1.2 The new environment has made possible… 18-19
4.1.3 History of TDF 19-20
4.2 Legal Issues 20
4.2.1 Data Protection and Privacy
4.2.2 Legal protection of non-personal data
4.2.3 National Policies and Concerns
5. Socio-economic and political implications 27-28
5.1 National TDF policies 28-29
6. Standards 29
6.1 Physical layer
6.2 Data link layer
6.3 Network layer
6.4 Transport layer
6.5 Session layer
6.6 Presentation layer
6.7 Application layer
7. Library Information Resources available via Transborder
7.1 Library and Information Resources 34-35
7.1.1 Trans-Border access to databases 34-35
184.108.40.206 Database producers, vendors, brokers, users and carriers 34-35
7. 220.127.116.11 Criteria for the selection of databases
18.104.22.168 Preliminary conditions
22.214.171.124 Usefulness of databases for the end-user
7.2 Document Supply 37-38
7.2.1 Electronic Document Delivery
7.2.2 International Interlending (ILL)
7.2.3 Trans-border flow of bibliographic records
7.2.4 Trans-border flow of data on serials
8. Library and Research Networks and Trans-Border Dataflow 42-43
9. Limitations in the Idea of TDF 43
10. Gains from Idea of TDF 44
11. Conclusions 44-45
12. References 46
8. Page - 8 -
The merger of computer and communications technologies in the past two decades has
revolutionized information processing throughout the world. The most recent
telecommunications advances make possible direct international transfers of sensitive
personal data via computer-satellite links. Computerized data bases containing
commercial information identifying citizens of one country are now routinely
transferred to and stored in another, often without the knowledge of the individuals
identified in the data. Transmission Border Data Flow deals with the movement of
personally identifiable data from one country to another. Hence, "Trans-border OR
Transmission Border Data Flows” is the transmission over computer-communicational
systems of automated data to be processed and stored in foreign data processing
systems. A number of issues, including privacy protection and data security, arise in
various Trans-Border Data Flow (TDF) situations, especially the potential effects on
TDF of National Privacy Protection Laws and pending international agreements. Sets of
associated technical requirements are examined Trans-Border Data Flow means The
International Flow of Information. The term does not suggest any limitations of the
method by which the information may be transmitted. Technological innovation and
globalization have facilitated a surge in Trans-Border Flows of Information. The
Internet, in particular, has enabled information to be moved around the world almost
instantly. These developments ave major implications for the protection of
informational privacy, and create significant challenges for national information
privacy laws. However , it is not simply the transmission, in and of itself, which concern
as a general . To reflect this problem the International Community given a term called
Informatics, which is surrounded by computer and information science. So that the
trans-border data flow can concerned with bioinformatics, business informatics, eco
informatics, environmental informatics, social informatics etc. Trans-border data flows
are increasingly prevalent in modern commerce and government and individuals may
frequently not even realize that their information is being sent overseas. Some examples of
trans-border data flows are:
1. Businesses and governments are increasingly outsourcing activities, including the
processing of personal information about their customers and citizens.
9. Page - 9 -
2. Technologies such as search engines, cloud computing and voice over internet
protocol can all involve personal information being sent overseas.
3. A mirror image of all citizen‟s passport data is stored in the centralized data base to
facilitate the advanced passenger processing system.
4. Motivated by concerns about terrorism and national security, governments are
demanding more information about people entering their countries. The central
investigation agency has sought access to this centralized database for anti-terrorism
5. It will be evident that Trans-Border Data Flows can entail significant opportunities
for Agencies, but that there are corresponding privacy risks. Some countries where
personal information about citizens/Nation is sent may not have laws in place to protect
privacy to the standard that particular citizen/Nation expect. This could result in
personal information being exposed.
The challenge, then, is to allow Trans-Border Data Flows to occur whilst also protecting
privacy. A range of International and Regional Instruments have been developed in
pursuit of the twin goals of facilitating free flows of information across borders and
protecting privacy. Each seeks to establish consistent rules among countries so that
inconsistent national laws do not impede Trans-Border Data Flows and economical,
A number of International Privacy Instruments have been developed since the 1980s,
with the aim of setting privacy standards to facilitate consistent domestic laws. As yet,
however, no international privacy treaty exists. The ultimate goal appears to be that all
countries will have similar privacy standards, so barriers to trans-border data flows will
no longer be necessary. Specially Numerous European countries have enacted data
protection legislation with the confirmed intent to protect their citizens from the
improper use of personal information that is Transferred Extra-Nationally. The
emergence of corporate privacy laws in several data protection laws recently enacted in
Europe, restrictions have been imposed that limit the trans-border transfer not only of
data identifying individuals, but of data that identifies corporations as well. These
particular statutes also appear to give corporations the right to inspect other
corporations data bases in which they are identified, like similar provisions in most
10. Page - 10 -
other data protection laws granting individuals the right of access to records identifying
them. To some degree, all data protection laws impose a burden on Multinational
Corporations and others who seek to move data transnationally. The laws containing
corporate privacy provisions, however, may have a particularly severe long term impact
on trade. Data Protection Laws containing only individual privacy provisions do not
impose this extra burden. Thus, it is important to examine and compare the burdens
imposed by, and the justifications offered for, the enactment of individual and corporate
privacy provisions in order to determine if the additional burden on trade is warranted.
Such an inquiry requires a delineation of the differences between individual and
corporate privacy interests from both a legal and a policy perspective. An examination
of the individual and corporate privacy interests through their differing common law
development, statutory treatment, and impact on international trade suggests that the
primary rationale underlying corporate privacy has little to do with privacy. Rather,
the rationale appears to be one of furthering the National Economic Development of the
Country enacting the legislation. Moreover, the trade barriers erected by Corporate
privacy provisions cannot be justified by the same interests that rationalize individual
privacy provisions. Corporate privacy provisions, therefore, should not be included in
data protection laws. To avoid the international trade barriers generated by corporate
privacy provisions, nations that have enacted or are considering the enactment of data
protection laws must be persuaded to avoid such provisions in their own laws. This
important result can be achieved by negotiating aggressively for international
agreements that encourage free trade.
11. Page - 11 -
i) The project provides the definition and basic concepts of Trans-Border Data Flow.
ii) This project traces the recent developments in Computer and Communication
Technologies and the emergence of Computer Communication Networks.
iii) The project describes the reasons and advantages in the international transmission
of information as well as this project gives importance on legal issues relevant to the
regulation of trans-border data flows.
iv) The project presents an overview of the technology involved, indicates the type of
information currently being transmitted internationally and summarizes as well as
critique a number of concerns arising from this international trade in information.
v) The discussion is followed by on the concern for these issues in different countries
and how they are perceiving them in their national informatics policies.
vi) The type and volume of data is described being transmitted and the various actors
and participants involved in the Trans-Border Data Flow.
vii) The project emphasizes on personal privacy, national sovereignty, independence
and power and the social, cultural as well as economic issues arising as a result of
international transmission of information.
viii) The present project work is a checklist of issues linked with Trans-Border Dataflow
for Library and Information services, and aim to:
- review key Trans-Border Dataflow issues: technologies, legal, socio-economic.
- present the general characteristic of Trans-Border Dataflow applications to the
Library and Information professions, namely: the transfer of data resource, document
delivery and technical services.
- the project work is intended to serve as an aide-memoire for those librarians,
information specialists and managerial staff interested in Trans-Border Flow of Library
and Information data.
- the project work tries to reduce volume of Trans-Border Dataflow issues, and its aim –
to provide orientation to users – predetermined its general, introductory nature.
According to the terms of reference it should be considered an indicative list of items,
which remind the user of what he/she should take into account when planning a Trans-
Border Data transfer, rather than providing a solution.
12. Page - 12 -
3.1 Meaning of TDF:-
Trans-Border Data Flows are broadly defined as units of information transferred and
processed in more than one nation state. A variety of similar terms such as
“transnational data flows” and “transfrontier data flows” are also used. In Europe, the
term “frontier” is preferred over “border”. However “border” and “frontier” seems to
be interchangeable. The terms “data” and “information” are used synonymously in the
Trans-border Data Flow debate. In the present context the “data” refers to a set of
organized symbols capable of machine processing and transmission. “Information”
implies a higher class of data intelligible to human beings. It will also be appropriate
here to make a distinction between computer and communication technologies. Seitz
defines communication as an activity in which the quality of information is preserved
without any alteration of its contents. Data processing, on the other hand, improves the
quality of information by transferring or manipulating it. Trans-border Data Flows
occur when extraterritorial data processing functions operate at one or more than one
termination point in a communication link.
3.2 Definition of TDF:-
There is not a uniform approach in the literature to the definition of trans-border
dataflow (TDF), although all the definition have the same common core.
The United Nations in its technical paper, Transnational Corporations and Trans-
Border Data Flows, defines Trans-Border Data Flow as :
Movements across national boundaries, of machine-readable data for processing,
storage or retrieval … based on contractual agreements between parties. Media
products (mass diffusion) are excluded. Such movements can be effected by non-
electronic means, e.g., on magnetic tapes, discs, punched cards or other media.
Increasingly, however, electronic means are used, which presupposes availability of a
In “The Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of Transborder Data Flows”, a paper
presented by István Sebestyén for the Unesco Regional Seminar on Information Policy
(Colombo, 22-24 October 1986), Mr. Sebestyén presents transborder dataflow as:
an interdisciplinary term which comprises elements such as the automatic
processing, storage, retrieval of data, their electronic transmission routine through
borders and specification of content of message/data types, programmes. This complex,
interdisciplinary phenomenon had to be viewed from various angles, such as technical,
legal, economic, socio-cultural and political.
13. Page - 13 -
In his view, trans-border dataflow is restricted exclusively to the processing and
transfer of electronic data.
Karl P. Sauvant, in the paper entitled “Transborder Data Flows in the International
Services Discussion”, presented at the same Unesco Regional Seminar in Colombo, used
the term “transborder dataflow interchangeably with the concept “trade in data
service” and defined it as:
point-to-point movements of machine-readable data across national boundaries.
The data involved are normally of a proprietary nature, and the movements are usually
based on contractual agreements between parties. (Media produces which involved
mass diffusion, especially broadcasting and television, are therefore excluded). Such
movements can be effected by electronic means, e.g., magnetic tapes, discs, punched
cards, or other media.
…The trend in transborder dataflow is towards the greater usage of transnational
This definition, which is quite similar to that developed by the United Nations, is
sufficiently broad to cover the transfer of library and information data in any format
from one country to another.
For the purpose of this work the UN definition will be used.
Examination of Transborder Data Flow regulation is plagued by a number of
definitional uncertainties. For example, views as to whether certain types of data (such
as Internet protocol (IP) addresses) constitute „personal data‟ that are subject to data
protection and privacy laws differ between the various data protection and privacy
regimes. There has also been controversy as to whether merely making personal data
accessible on the Internet should be considered to result in an „international data
transfer‟. For the purposes of this study, it seems best to consider terms such as
„personal data‟, „transborder data flows‟, and „data transfer‟ as broadly as possible.
The rapid evolution of technologies and business models means that any definition of
key terms that is too narrow is likely to be rapidly overtaken by events. Thus, such
terms will be construed here widely to include most types of data and mechanisms that
result in personal data flowing across national borders.
14. Page - 14 -
As has been said, trans-border dataflow is a broad term, which involves international
cooperation in data processing, storage, retrieval and transmission across borders. It is
also a complex and interdisciplinary term which has to be viewed from different angels
in planning and operating international data transactions. Quintessentially a product of
the information age, the issue of trans-border data flow touches on many of the topics
identified as essential to information transfer, including information technology,
protection of privacy, the free flow of information and national sovereignty.
All of these issues constitute the conceptual framework for this increasingly important
international activity. Within this general framework the components are continuously
modified or changing due to scientific and technologies development – as is the case for
the processing and telecommunication of data, or adopting to new circumstances, which
is observed in legal and socio-political issues determined by changes in information
The concise review of these issues which follows covers the technologies aspects of
transborder dataflow, standardization efforts, protection of privacy and intellectual
property as well as some socio-political implications.
4.1 Technological Issues :-
4.1.1 The problem raised by Trans-border Data Flow:- finds its antecedent in the rapid
developments and subsequent convergence of Computer and Telecommunication
Technologies. Over the last decade, rapid developments have taken place in Computer
and telecommunication technologies. Each of these separate developments in its own
way has constituted a revolution in our capacities to handle and transmit information –
at greater speed with greater precision, and with the capacity to deal with greater
quantities of information.
126.96.36.199 Computer, in less than two decades, have gone from large-scale centralized
super-adding machines used mainly for specialized purpose, to worldwide network of
shared systems. The main trends in this are still towards smaller, faster, and cheaper
technologies. Recent developments in micro-miniaturized circuits give enormous gains
in the performance and reliability with dramatic decrease in size and cost.
15. Page - 15 -
188.8.131.52 The microprocessors now rival in capacity and performance compared to room-
sized computer of twenty years ago. As a result of these developments, the extended use
of computers and their ancillary systems have pervaded many areas of human activates.
Large areas of production, service, maintenance and routine information handling of all
kinds have come under automated control. Such operations are today increasingly
interlinked. This increasing inter-dependence of these systems in agricultural and
industrial production, energy, transport and marketing management and financial
operations has been characterized as a new symbiosis between human and machine.
The impact of this new symbiosis has already been considerable on various activities of
184.108.40.206 Similarly, Telecommunication has developed through earlier telegraph,
telephone and telex systems to a complex global network embracing all of these as well
as radio, television, micro-wave and satellite relays, carrying personal messages;
commercial, economic, political, scientific and military information. Taken together, the
above two sets of technological developments constitute a core change in the sustaining
basis of human society. It is not just the computer and its impact on telecommunication
with which we are concerned here but with the convergence and interaction of these
developments to create a radically new information and communication environment.
220.127.116.11 Data Networks one of the technological “driving forces” of Trans-border
Dataflow is the development and interconnection of computer networks. For the
typology of networks the geographic criterion has been used. There are local networks
with restricted access and technical requirements, and Wide Area Networks with
sophisticated configurations and high data transfer capabilities linking countries and
continents. Their role in Trans-border Dataflow is essential.
18.104.22.168.1 Local Area Networks (LANs) This kind of network is designed for small areas,
such as building or site. Usually such a network has a central computer (server) on
which all software and data is stored and when necessary can be created, updated or
examined by a personal computer. LAN networks are economical, but are restricted in
application. In trans-border dataflow they can be used for offline exploitation of foreign
16. Page - 16 -
Another type of local network, large than a LAN is the Metropolitan Area Network
(MAN) developed for a single locality connecting, for example, libraries or information
22.214.171.124.2 Wide Area Networks (WANs)
WANs cover geographic areas and are equipped with special purpose computers and
usually interconnected by dedicated communication links. This type of network finds a
large application in Trans-border Dataflow transactions.
The WANs are divided into two basic types :-
- circuit-switched networks, which operate by forming a continuous connection between
two ends that are connected. Circuit-switched networks usually use the telephone
system with the application of modems for the conversion of data from to analog form.
- packet-switched networks, in which data is divided into small segments, called packet,
which are transferred using high capacity inter-machine connections. The CCITT
developed international standard X.25 for packet switching to provide virtual circuits
between nodes in a network.
126.96.36.199.3 Public Data Networks(PDN) or Packet Switched Public Data Networks
(PSPDN), these networks are publicly accessible for a fee – and are usually run by
telecommunication agencies or PTTs. Many of PDNs (or PSPDNs) provide their users
with additional services, including electronic mail or access to commercial information,
referred to the literature as value added services or value-added networks.
188.8.131.52.4 Integrated Service Digital Networks (ISDN)
ISDN is a set of communication standards aimed at wide range voice and non-voice
applications of telephone exchanges interlinked directly with high speed digital
ISDN is a logical step in the development of the classic telephone network – permitting
the integration, under certain conditions, of other bearer networks and services, such as
the circuit and packet-switched data networks, as well as telex, telefax, videotext, MHS
and other possible services.
17. Page - 17 -
ISDN represents an interesting potential for trans-border dataflow because it does not
involve new technology, (requires only creation and application of sets of standards)
and seems to be cheaper than other types of communication. It should be stressed,
however, that the ISDN is not yet operational world-wide, although ISDN services are
already available in some areas.
184.108.40.206.5 Mass storage technologies
Mass storage technologies such as optical discs have opened new horizons for
information processing, storage and retrieval and are seriously considered in trans-
border dataflow as an information transport medium of increasing importance. One of
the reasons for this that the mass storage technology based on optical discs has made
substantial progress in the last decade.
Optical discs are usually divided into three categories:
- Optical Read-Only Memories (OROM) comprising discs on which information
can be recorded once. The discs are manufactured industrially. The user cannot
change the content of the discs. Videodiscs and CD-ROM discs belong to this
- Write Once-Read Many (WORM) which can be stored once by the user, e.g., for
archival purposes. The recorded information cannot be updated.
These development dramatically changed the areas of trans-border dataflow
applications. In classic TDF systems usually the electronic transfer across borders is
considered the rule. With the recent trend towards distributed processing, and
especially with the massive use of personal computers and in particular, optical mass
storage systems, the classic TDF transport media had to be extended by the physical
CD-ROM form of transport.
In future TDF applications, it can be expected that the WORM optical discs will play
an importance role in office and mass archival environments, whereas it can be
expected that the CD-ROM will play an important role as the distribution medium for
the traditional bibliographic, and possibly factual, databases. The difference between
CD-ROM and online media from the user‟s and distributor‟s point of view shows that
CD-ROMs have some advantages such as: immediate access, data persistence, storage
density, ease of mailing, and media storage costs, but also have disadvantages :
18. Page - 18 -
payment in advance, lack of downloading data, lack of updating of databases and
limited access to the number of databases. Despite these disadvantages, it can be
expected that in the future the CD-ROM based on PCs will replace, to a substantial
extent, remote online access to centralized, major database hosts. This fact should be
noted by policy makers involved in trans-border dataflow planning.
4.1.2 The new environment has made possible the following things
i) Communication by data users and data suppliers can become instantaneous,
inexpensive and ubiquitous;
ii) Terminals in one country can communicate with other terminals or data bases
around the world either on a real time or store or forward basis, without human
intervention of any kind;
iii) Communication and computer links can be used on a point-to-point or network
basis and in either direction;
iv) National and international information networks are emerging with having remote
access to “host computer”; and
v) Distance and geographical barriers are becoming virtually irrelevant in a cost or
The most significant development has been emergence of the international information
networks which are responsible for the inter-national transmission of information.
There are several reasons why data or information may be passed from one country to
another. The owner or user of data may wish to share and control processing facilities
or to make use of a central data bank. Often, there are considerable financial benefits
and added convenience from such centralization. Many organizations, of course, are
inherently international whether in terms of their purchasing or selling or other trade,
or whether they are a part of a corporation which operates in several countries. There
are also certain activities which by their nature, can only exist if there is an
international communication, e.g. international banking and credit, airline reservations;
world meterological cooperation. Similarly, the pooling of international resources and
ideas for scientific and technical research are examples of the need for international
communication for the furtherance of international cooperation. For all the reasons
19. Page - 19 -
mentioned above, international data communication in one form or another is essential.
International transmission of data are already producing substantial benefits for large
international companies either through more efficient management or computer
resource sharing. It has also facilitated international co-operation in many areas of
scientific research, namely weather forcasting, oceanography, etc.
4.1.3 History of TDF :-
The Transmission of Data over telecommunication circuits began in the 1950‟s, with the
early establishment of airline and defence networks. The technology developed by these
pioneering systems began to see its applications in mid 1960‟s in banking, corporate
management, government, time-sharing bureaus and so on. The airline and defence
network have had an international dimension almost from the beginning, but until the
end of 1960‟s, other systems using data transmission were confined to a single country,
with very few exceptions. The growth of international data transmission is thus
essentially a phenomenon of the 1970‟s. The speed, accessibility, and interactive
capability provided by developments in international networks do make a qualitative
difference to the way in which data can be shared and used and to the interdependence
of the parties at each end of the link. At the same time, the intangible nature of data
transmission and the difficulties of monitoring what is being sent adds to the concern
over possible misuse and undesirable cultural, social and economic effects. These
concerns fall into following there broad areas:-
i) The privacy and security of personal and corporate data, particularly where it may be
transported to or accessed from another country which may have low standards of
privacy and security than the country where the data originate;
ii) The increasing international independence created by sharing of data or computing
resources between countries and the resulting vulnerability of one country to events or
decisions in another which are outside its control; and
iii) The danger of the concentration of data processing facilities in some countries, with
a resulting loss of economic opportunities and capability. Furthermore the vulnerability
of the concentration of data, both inside and outside of a country‟s boundaries, can pose
a threat to its national security.
20. Page - 20 -
The trend towards distribution and decentralization in Trans-border Dataflow systems
continued in the 1980s. At that time the main functions of TDF networks remained file
transfer, message sending and other transactions such as ordering and banking.
A new element in the work of the TDF networks of the 1980s was the emergence of
public telecommunication services, such as teletex, videotex, facsimile, message handling
systems (MHS) and in some highly developed countries experiments with Integrated
Services Digital Networks (ISDN).
4.2 Legal Issues
Modern information and telecommunication technology substantially improved
information processing and transfer at national and global levels, but also raised some
new and significant policy questions.
Several countries, both developed and developing, are alarmed that a substantial
amount of data-economic, commercial and personal – are being processed and stored in
automated systems outside their countries. Most of them have taken steps to create
barriers to this flow of information and introduced data protection legislation as well as
national strategies for information and communication development. Such a
government controlled approach is very often in conflict with the policy of private
owned telecommunication and information industries in several countries.
It is expected that with the erosion of national borders caused by growing trans-border
dataflow, increased efforts for the protection of privacy, technological advancement and
national sovereignty will be noted. Several countries have already adopted laws making
natural and legal persons subject to privacy and data protection regulations (e.g.
Austria, Denmark, Norway).
It is expected that many other countries will introduce legislation to control and direct
operations by introducing customs clearance or another form of supervision.
4.2.1 Data Protection and Privacy
The passage of privacy-protection laws was prompted by the increased use of computers
for the collection, storage and processing of data about individuals. These data may
concern a wide range of information including matters such as: education, financial,
welfare, business and insurance status; medical and criminal history; membership of
21. Page - 21 -
professional associations; and political and religious beliefs. Personal databases have
also been built for statistical and intelligence systems used by law enforcement and
national security agencies. The increased application of computer and
telecommunication technology for data processing and transfer has given the keeping of
records on individuals an entirely new dimension. Computerized personal data systems
may have an adverse effect on the right to privacy because the amount and range of
data stored on the private life of an individual faces virtually no limitations.
Furthermore, they allow information to be disseminated to a wider audience than the
individual may have anticipated when originally submitting the information. The
present computer and telecommunication technology permits the centralization of data
from various sources. There also exists a risk of inaccuracies in recording personal data
and the unauthorized access to personal information.
All these factors contributed to the governmental initiatives, form constitutional
provision to adoption of pertinent juridical regulations.
The most widely issued data law pertains to the treatment of personal data. Concerns
about safeguarding privacy also focused attention on trans-border dataflow.
Almost all data protection laws, enacted by countries cover both the private and public
sectors and apply to computerized records. Basically these laws regulate those
conditions under which personal data can be collect, stored, transmitted and
maintained on computer; require the licensing or registration of systems for the
processing of personal data; consider most personal data to be sensitive data; require
the adoption of specific procedures that procedures that ensure the accurate and fair
collection, processing and distribution of data for early defined purposes; foresee
procedures through which individuals can have access to data collected about them and
can request the correction of wrong information; provide for the creation of follow-up
machinery with varying degrees of competence; and use criminal sanctions in case of
violations of the applicable law. Some laws pertain not only to natural but also to legal
persons. This inclusion of legal persons in data-protection regulations makes it possible
to extent restrictions on the transmission of data on persons to the export of data.
In the trans-border dataflow context the transfer or storage of such data abroad can
only be made if data protection or privacy laws of equal quality are enacted on both
sides. In many countries data files containing personal data have to be registered by a
22. Page - 22 -
special data protection body. But even if a country does not have special provisions
applying to trans-border dataflow in its data pr5otection laws, laws are frequently
interpreted in a manner that restricts trans-border dataflow.
Efforts have also been made to harmonize data protection standards among countries.
The following two documents of international importance should be cited as example:
- Convention for the protection of Individuals to Automatic Processing of Personal
Data, adopted by the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 18
September 1980 which came into force in October 1985, and
- Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Dataflows of
Personal Data, adopted by the Council of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OCED) on 23 September 1980 as an annex to the
recommendation on the same subject.
The principal components of the Convention of the Council of Europe consist of
substantive law provisions in the form of basic principles, special rules on trans-border
dataflow, and mechanisms of mutual assistance and consultation between the
The guidelines of the OECD (which are voluntary) contain the basic principles of
privacy protection and the provisions concerning trans-border dataflow, irrespective of
the manner in which they are handled.
4.2.2 Legal protection of non-personal data
The protection of non-personal data in trans-border dataflow uses, in general terms,
four legal instruments:
- Copyright – which offers protection to the words of authors for a period of time
- Patent - which secures an exclusive right for the inventor to control production
of an apparatus of the use of a process for a limited period of time.
- Trademark – a device or words legally registered as distinguishing and
protecting a manufacturer‟s goods or computer software.
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- Trade secret – the law of confidentiality coupled with a sort of contract which is
widely used to keep the details confidential.
There is not an uniform international attitude to the question of trans-border flow of
non-personal data. Some countries e.g., Brazil, introduced a restrictive policy on trans-
border dataflow, insisting that a country should have full control over the information
resources essential to its sovereignty and development. These countries indicated an
interest in taking measures aimed at averting various undesirable political, economics,
social and cultural effects of trans-border dataflow.
Other countries, mainly developed countries, are guided by different considerations.
They insist that the establishment of any framework for non-personal dataflow must be
guided by the recognition of the principles relating to a free flow of information, free
enterprise, free trade and adequate availability of appropriate telecommunication
facilities and services. To date comprehensive international guidelines pertaining to the
trans-border dataflow of non-personal data do not exist. In the field of international
bibliographic data transfer and exchange in machine-readable form, copyright law at
the present time does not provide a consistent and universal mechanism to govern the
international transfer of bibliographic data. The most feasible mechanism which exists
for the exchange of bibliographic data among libraries is bilateral or multilateral
agreements which spell out in detail the type of uses which the parties are allowed to
make of the exchange data.
4.2.3 National Policies and Concerns
When the various countries in the world consider their information policy issues with
which they are faced, they must consider not only the domestic concerns, but also the
implication of the international flow of data for their own situations. Broadly speaking
these international concerns are focused on:
i) Major role played by the United States in the supply and use of information resources.
At present 85 percent of the world supply of computers and computer data is in the
hands of 10 western companies and IBM provides almost half of it (Table 1). A bulk
of data bases are also located in the United States (Table 2). These databases account
for 80 percent of the worldwide transmission and processing of information. Also a
considerable portion of official and government information relating to western
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European countries is held in USA data banks. There is a considerable fear that the
existing trends, if unchecked will lead to an unhealthy American dominance over other
nation‟s economic, social and cultural values. The European, Japanese and other
Governments with substantial investments in domestic information industries have
already begun to view the continued American dominance with alarm. These nations,
being strongly apprehensive of the increasing dominance, now aspire to strengthen their
own information sector for reasons of national prestige and more importantly, for the
present and future trade advantages the information products and service might bring.
Despite a growing manufacturing capability, these nations also fear the loss of domestic
and foreign markets to American firms offering sophisticated information processing
services. They are, therefore, now very much concerned to protect their local industry
by augmenting and reorganizing their indigenous resources and facilities.
Table 1 In US $m
Turnover of leading Information Corporations, 1978
25. Page - 25 -
1975 1977 1979
United States of America
Number of data bases
Number of records
Other Developed Market
Number of data bases
Number of records
Number of data bases
Number of records
ii) In many instances the challenge instances the challenge is perceived not due to United
States government not more specially from the Multinational Corporations, which have
acquired super-national powers and are independent of any local governments control.
The Multinational Corporations which are expected to account for 16-20% of the world
output by 1985, are engaged in a substantial amount of trans-border data traffic.
The concerns about trans-border data flow vary from country to country. However, it is
well documented in some reports commissioned and submitted in few countries namely
France, Canada and Sweden. The French government has initiated a number of steps to
ascertain the impact of data flow on French economy and citizens. The Norce-Minc
Report of “L” Information de la societe” submitted to the French Government in June
1978 is a comprehensive catalogue of French concern about the role of United States in
computing, data processing and telecommunications. The report makes the following
i) the “information of society” will have serious social, economic and cultural
consequences for France;
Reference data bases and data base records :
Geographical distribution, 1975-79
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ii) foreign firms (primarily IBM) must not be allowed to be instruments of
foreign (primarily United States) dominance;
iii) Post, Telephone and Telegraph Administration should be restricted so that
telecommunication can be redirected to work more closely with other high
iv) Mastery of component technology is as important as nuclear mastery for
The above report represents a serious French commitment to retain or achieve control
over the future information industry. The French Government prodded by the Norce-
Minc report is also now considering alliances with other European administrations in
the area of telecommunications, computers and electronics to combat American
companies. In addition, the Government has set up a special commission on
“Transborder data flow” in 1979 to report directly to the President of the Republic.
For the last ten years the Canadian Government has also been trying to establish and
maintain an information-communication policy. As a result, a number of government
reports have been produced in this area. The report entitled “Telecommunication and
Canada” popularly known as “Clyne Report” submitted in 1979 in particular considers
the implications of transborder data flows for Canadian Sovereignty. According to this
report Canada is increasingly reliant on foreign (primarily United States) computing
services. It stresses the need to avoid the dependence and reliance on American
technology. The report suggests that the only alternative solution lies in the cooperative
development of a national strategy to protect Canadian interests and derive the greatest
benefit from the development and use of informatics technology available in Canada. To
this end the Committee made two recommendations:-
i) The Federal Government, in agreement with the governments of its provinces
and the private sector, should stimulate the development of plans for the
creation of Canadian-owned private data banks, as well as other similar
agencies funded by government aid and other incentives should be devised
for that purpose;
ii) The government should act immediately to regulate trans-border data flows
to ensure that we do not loose control of information, vital to the maintenance
of national sovereignty.
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The report concluded that Communication technologies are developing so rapidly which
poses threat to Canadian sovereignty in both its cultural and commercial aspects.
In Sweden the “Committee on the Vulnerability of Computer Systems” which was set
up by the Ministry of Defence at the behest of the Cabinet, under-scored several
political, legal and economic problems, resulting from extensive computer use and
foreign data flow. It stated that “vulnerability” is due to several factors: chief among
them are dependence on foreign sources; and manpower dependence. The main cause of
present vulnerability is that there has been no governmental control over the
development which has led to the highly computerized society of today. There has been
no overall assessment of the risks in the entire field of civil sector, much less for the
country as a whole. The lack of awareness of vulnerability problems is not unique in
Sweden. There are several other countries both developed and developing which have
recently shown concern over the problems of trans-border data flow. Some of these
countries have been expressing these concerns at the various international forums,
conferences and meeting etc.
The increased transnational transfer of data created problems which are close to
question of national sovereignty and domestic economy. To this group of issues the
following could relate:
- The growing national dependence of information processing outside the country.
- Loss of processing jobs.
- Loss of the hardware and software markets.
National sovereignty is understood, among other things, as a country‟s ability to
influence the direction of its political, economic and socio-cultural changes. Therefore it
could be eroded to the extent that trans-border dataflow involves the migration of the
key decision-making functions to a foreign location. In addition, national sovereignty
may be impaired if knowledge about the full range of alternatives open to a given
country in a given situation is restricted because of lack of access to relevant
information or because of an underdeveloped capacity to apply to relevant technologies.
If a country lacks data about itself and its international environments – because of a
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very limited capacity to collect, access or process it – it can be said to lack pertinent
decision – making capacity about its own future.
In the absence of adequate national capabilities, data must be exported for processing.
In the Information Age data export for processing abroad comes to be regarded as a
mark of underdevelopment.
Such a situation could also lead to the vulnerability of a country which processes critical
data abroad, because of the possible breakdown of computer systems, strikes, political
5.1 National TDF policies
A national policy approach to trans-border dataflow depends, to a great extent, on a
country‟s level of development. Countries which not have sufficient data resources and
are in a weak position to build up domestic capacities have to rely on trans-border
dataflow. In this case data resources are not physically, but functionally, acquired. Data
resources remain located abroad and access to them is gained via transnational
computer-communication systems. This policy approach should be called access-
oriented acquisition policy based on an assumption that access is guaranteed and
barriers are reduced or eliminated. The rational for such an approach is to avoid the
costs in the development of domestic capabilities and to benefit from international
This policy, which is shown mainly by less developed or small countries, is
understandable from an economic point view, but may represent a risky undertaking,
because it implies that critical resources may be located elsewhere and are merely
available via telecommunication lines.
Another approach which applies to countries that possess well-developed data resources
is different. This policy is based on a liberal international regime for a free and dynamic
flow of data. It implies, among other things, the existence of an efficient, worldwide
technical infrastructure for TDF, the elimination of barriers to trade and foreign
investment in data services, and that data services transactions can be taken as freely as
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The rationale for this approach lies in the belief that, analogous to trade in goods, the
trade in data services contributes to a more efficient allocation of resources and
increases the efficiency of doing transnational business, and that trade in services, like
trade in goods, is an engine of growth.
The two different policy approaches should be considered as indicative and are seldom
to be found in their pure form. Most countries apply a mixed strategy, which allows
them to strengthen their domestic capacities for certain segments of an industry, but to
rely on access to international data resources for other segments.
The development of international cooperation, e.g., in trade and industry, required the
established of standards and regulations which will be respected by the countries
involved in the exchange of goods and technology.
One of the fields where international standards and regulations are playing an essential
role is that of trans-border dataflow, especially in data processing and
At the national level there are bodies involved in standards development such as the
Deutsche Institut für Normung (DIN), the British Standards Institute, and ANSI in the
United States. These institutions elaborate standards and recommendations for national
International standards are set up by special standardization bodies such as the
International Organization for Standardization (ISO), funded in 1947 with the
objectives of promoting the development of standards in the world with a view to
facilitating exchange of goods and services, and to develop cooperation in the sphere of
intellectual, scientific and economic activity. Its membership comprises the national
standards bodies. The work of ISO transfers through technical committees,
subcommittees and working groups. Each ISO standard is the result of cooperation
between groups of experts from many countries and it represents an international
agreement between the ISO member bodies. The standard may be used as such or it
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may be implemented through incorporation in the national standards in different
In the field of telecommunications and data communicator, the national bodies, e.g.,
PTTs, work closely with international policy-making and standardization bodies such as
the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The aims of ITU are to set up
international regulations for telegraph, telephone and to further their development
and use; to improve and rationalize the use of telecommunications of all kinds and
to develop technical facilities and their most efficient operation. Within ITU, two
standardization setting bodies are active: CCITT (Comité Consultatif International
Télégraphique) and CCIR (International Consultative for Radio).
CCITT is responsible for “wired” public telecommunication, and CCIR is responsible
for the broad cast type, i.e. “on the air”, CCITT and CCIR fulfill their standardization
duties by producing every four years a new set of CCITT and CCIR recommendations.
It is worth noting that international standards or recommendations are not legally
binding for a country – but in practice they are used as a basis for the national rules
issued by the national standardization bodies or by government authorities. This is the
case for international telecommunication and data communication, where identical
standards have to be used by all, and where the differences in compatibility lead to
the collapse of communication.
In trans-border dataflow the cooperative effort of ISO and CCITT brought into fruition
the so called Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model.
Business and governments have committed huge resources to the development of OSI
standards and their compatible recommendations. OSI applications started in library
and information environments, and it is expected that in the very near future OSI
protocols will be widely used for trans-border dataflow and the exchange of information
OSI is the framework for communication among heterogenous systems capable of
exchanging data meaningfully. Without such a scheme the realization of trans-border
dataflow will be substantially impaired.
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The fundamental objective of OSI is to provide a globally agreed framework for the
design of systems required to interoperate. This framework is known as the Basic
Reference Model for Open Systems Interconnection. In the standard itself (IS 7498) the
objective is stated as follows:
“to provide a common basis for the coordination of standards development for the
purpose of system interconnection, while allowing existing standards to be placed into
perspective within the overall reference model”. The OSI Reference Model represents
decompositions of communications between systems into a set of layers. It consists of
6.1 Physical layer
The physical layer provides for the transportation of digital data across physical media.
6.2 Data link layer
This layer provides for error file transmission over the path between the terminal and
6.3 Network layer
This layer provides routing and switching functions necessary to set up source-sink path
for information exchange. It provides this services independent from particular data
transfer technologies used in real networks. The best known standard for this layer is
CCITT X.25 providing a packet switched network interface.
6.4 Transport layer
Errors, mis-ordering of data blocks, and cost-effectiveness of real network services on
an end-to-end basis may still be of concern to data communication service users, even
after the services of the three layers of OSI. Consequently, transport layer standards
have been developed to provide reliable, cost-effective data transfer flow, controlled
end-to-end as required on an individual basis.
6.5 Session layer
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This layer provides the functionality to establish and manage a dialogue between
communicating end systems and defines special tokens for use in structuring
6.6 Presentation layer
So that the data may be delivered to applications processes in a recognizable format,
presentation services are required.
6.7 Application layer
This layer provides services to the users of OSI, and not to a next higher layer. Its
purpose is to serve as the window between communicating users of OSI, and to perform
the functions necessary to exchange semantically meaningful information. This layer
contains many protocols, aimed at supporting different types of application, e.g., File
Transfer, Access and Management, Job Transfer and Manipulation Protocol.
For the trans-border dataflow environment, the OSI Reference Model is essential. It
provides the right philosophical background on how independent end-user hosts or
terminals systems can be sensibly interconnected.
Several OSI library-oriented protocols have been developed. Two of these are of special
interest for TDF:
- ISO Standard SR (Search and Retrieve) which is an equivalent os US NISO Z.
39.50 standard, the purpose of which is to allow the searching of databases on a
remote system and the retrieval of records as the result;
- The ILL protocol, which is an ISO standard for inter-lending structures, from
the simple model of a borrowing/lending transaction between two libraries, to
ILL networks involving centralized location agencies which handle requests, or
to decentralized structures in which the request may be directed from one to
the next library.
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Many libraries and information centres, as well as library networks and research
institutions, are using trans-border dataflow facilities for the transfer, exchange or
purchase of library resources and services.
There are three major domain in which such transfer are observed:
- Bibliographic information provision (e.g., access to bibliographic databases);
- Document supply through inter-lending or electronic ordering and supply of
- Technical services (e.g., shared cataloguing, serials controls, etc.)
Among the three groups of trans-border data transfers mentioned above, the
bibliographic information provision constitutes the largest one. As well as national
initiatives, both public and private, IFLA‟s Core Programme on Universal
Bibliographic Control and International MARC (UBCIM) has contributed to a great
extent to his dynamic development.
The UBCIM efforts – to coordinate activities aimed at systems and standards for
bibliographic control at the national level and the international exchange of
bibliographic data – provided a favourable framework for trans-border dataflow in this
The electronic trans-border document supply involving publishers, document supply
centres and libraries is increasing, because of the development and application of a new
technology for information processing and telecommunications; however it is still
confronting some problems of a legal and economic nature.
The trans-border supply of technical services for libraries and information centres is
the domain where, except for the sharing of catalogues and the development of the
International Serials Data System, activities were restricted in use due to technologies
and political reasons. Now, with the democratization process in several regions, its
application will probably be expanded.
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The partners and channels through which the international transfer of library and
information data is realized are multiple. There are libraries or library institutions,
information centers, brokers, library and research networks, commercial firms and
7.1 Library and Information Resources
7.1.1 Trans-Border access to databases
Trans-border dataflow of bibliographic, factographic, referral and full-text information
is closely linked with the development and access to machine-readable databases.
Bibliographic databases constitute one of the major information resources available
online. With few exceptions this activity had been developed by commercial information
services and access to these databases involves unusually high costs, is restricted by
licensing agreements and is therefore not available free to all users.
Trans-border access to library and information resources stored in databases can be
ensured in different ways:
- Online access to information in databases;
- Access to products derived from databases e.g. magnetic tapes, floppy discs, CD-
Databases accessible on the information market for online searching, currently in the
hundreds, cover almost every topic in science and technology and exist in a variety of
Databases can be categorized in a number of ways. They can be grouped by subject,
type of information, record/file structure, etc.
The Directory of Online Databases (Cuadra Associates) divided databases into two
major categories and subgroups:
i) Reference databases which includes:
- Bibliographic databases containing bibliographic description to primary literature;
- Referral databases, which contain information on institutions, individuals and
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ii) Source databases which groups:
- Numeric databases, containing numeric values from original surveys and/or data that
has been summarized or statistically manipulated;
- Textual-numeric databases, which contain records with fields of textual information,
numeric information, or both and often include critical, evaluated property data;
- Full-text databases, which contain records of the complete text of an item or some
other primary source;
- Software databases, which includes software ready for application by an end-user.
The publically available national and international databases are produced and
distributed in the information market by different organizations, both public and
private, as well as by a large number of commercial firms. Currently (1991) more than
5,000 databases in science, technology and business are available on the market.
It is beyond the scope of this Checklist to describe the existing, steadily growing,
database market. Comprehensive information on the dimension and growth of
databases can be found in appropriate directories. We are aware that problems users
are confronting today relate less to physical access, than to the selection, costs and
strategy of searching in databases.
220.127.116.11 Database producers, vendors, brokers, users and carriers
A database producer (also called provider) is an organization that complies information
and makes it available in computer-readable form (e.g., the American Chemicals
Society, the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau etc.)
Vendors, also called host or host computers for online access, are organizations that
provide databases services to end-users or to intermediaries (libraries, information
Brokers are public or private organizations that offer information services for a fee.
Brokers are used by organizations of all kinds. The advantage of using them is obvious
to individuals and small organizations that have important information needs, but do
not want to invest in a terminal, training and other costly forms of using databases
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Users are either intermediaries (librarians, information officers) or end-users
(scientists, engineers, economic etc.). The intermediaries usually provide assistance to
the end-user or act on their behalf.
Carriers are public or private organizations that provide telecommunication-network
services between users and online operators (e.g., TYMNET TRANSPAC, ESA, etc.)
18.104.22.168 Criteria for the selection of databases
Trans-border access to databases can be considered from different angles. These are
technological, economic and legal aspects to their transfer.
Technologies capabilities available today do not represent essential problems. There are
powerful computers with interactive user-friendly computer software as well as public
telecommunication networks facilitating rapid access to databases.
The real problem observed today is linked with the proliferation of databases and the
difficulty in making the right choice among the existing many systems in order to satisfy
the information requirements of the end-user. Today, intermediaries or users interested
in a given subject have at their disposal a large number of databases as well as
producers and vendors offering their services.
When reviewing the existing offers, the end-user is very often confused and requests the
services and assistance of a broker. This proliferation of databases and supplying
services also causes many problem for librarians and/or information specialists.
Therefore, the formulation of criteria and the methodology for the proper selection of
databases represent a growing interest to intermediaries and to end-users.
22.214.171.124 Preliminary conditions
There are some preliminary conditions which should be carefully considered before the
decision on the selection and choice of databases is made. The following conditions
usually should be taken into account:
- To define Users‟ needs, the financial conditions of the library and the
technological facilities available (including equipment for processing and
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- To determine the type of services required – selective dissemination of
- To define the physical carriers of the databases, and if they are foreseen for
- To compare the conditions proposed by different producers and vendors and to
prepare a cost-effective estimate.
- To choose the directories of information sources for databases. These are
catalogues available listing database producers or vendors, as well as directories
of databases available online, on CD-ROMs etc. (e.g., Computer-readable
Databases: A Directory and Data Sourcebook, M.E. Williams, ed.,)
126.96.36.199 Usefulness of databases for the end-user
Each of the databases has a set of characteristics, e.g., subject field, coverage, etc. Most,
if not all, may represent an interest of the end-user and should be carefully examined
before the final choice is made. The nine essential characteristics of databases presented
below might be considered as criteria for usefulness and as elements for comparison:
- Subject scope and comprehensiveness of a database
- Type(category) of database
- Geographic coverage of a database
- Time span
- Database producer
- Language of the databases description
- Restrictions in use of database producers – e.g. political, security, closed user
groups, local use, external use, etc., which should be taken into account.
- Database Volume – intervals of updating and number of updated records
- Costs of machine-readable databases and/or costs of online service represent an
essential factor in the selection process and for the final choice of a database.
7.2 Document Supply
The IFLA Core Programme on Universal Availability of Publications defines document
supply as the chain of provision and supply of publications from their originators
through intermediaries to their users.
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The methods of trans-border dataflow cover two types of document supply: electronic
document delivery and interlibrary loan.
Trans-Border document supply refers to both methods of supply – traditional document
delivery by regular postal service as well as the use of electronic forms of media to
support the transfer of documents between libraries and users.
The international inter-library loan process includes the mutual lending or borrowing
of library materials from the exchange of messages involved in the transaction process,
to delivery of the document. The request may be received by post, electronically, or by
telephone/facsimile. Usually the requests are processed by the library from its collection
(if the inter-lending loan is centralized) or are forwarded to back-up libraries
cooperating with the library loan system.
7.2.1 Electronic Document Delivery
Today the trans-border flow of documents is based mostly on paper carrier and
delivery by regular or special postal service.
Electronic document delivery implies the supply and reproduction electronically of the
kind of information usually provided in the form printed on paper. In other words
electronic document delivery refers to the use of electronic forms of document and
transfer media to support the transfer of document, between libraries and between
libraries and end-users.
It is a substitute for traditional inter-library loan or photocopy delivery service and a
logical step following electronic retrieval of bibliographic information in computerized
There are two main electronic document delivery systems used for trans-border
- Telecommunication-based systems
- Disc-based Systems
The transmission of electronic document across border can be via computer networks,
with the use of currently available standards for delivery of electronic documents. For
the document transmission can be used either file transfer service, which involves
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connection to a remote host and request that a particular document be sent or received
on a message handling system (MHS) based on the X,400 application protocol. MHS
manages the delivery of mail by providing an addressable envelope into which users,
machine or human, can insert messages that are then forwarded to the system.
7.2.2 International Interlending (ILL)
The requirements for international inter-lending are essentially the as those that apply
to national inter-lending systems; the initial provision of material, its location, and its
The inter-library loan process constitutes a chain of actions from the exchange of
messages involved in the transaction process to the delivery of document.
For the international inter-lending of library materials, the majority of which is stored
in conventional format (although there are collections of documents on microforms and
small collections of document held in electronic format), the requests may be
sent/received by post, electronically via computer networks, or by facsimile or
The electronic trans-border dataflow between the requesting library and the source
library consists of various messaging systems to facilitate the exchange of ILL messages
between the lending institutions.
The exchange of messages requires a standardized ILL message format and a coherent
communication channel, e.g., an electronic mail system. For the standardized form,
content and sequencing of ILL messages, an ILL protocol has been developed, and for
the definition of message handling systems the X.400 application protocol is available.
The ILL protocol is a standard based on the OSI reference model that defines a
standard for the exchange of ILL messages between library institutions that use
incompatible computers, systems and communication services. The ILL protocol allows
heterogeneous systems to exchange ILL messages without affecting local processing and
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A feasibility study of ILL Demonstration Projects undertaken by IFLA‟s UDT
Programme between the National Library of Canada and the British Library Document
Supply Centre showed, inter alia, that the ISO ILL protocol can be a common basis for
the application of inter-lending transactions and that the mode of communication could
be the X.400 Interpersonal Messaging Service.
Technical services developed by libraries or library networks at the national level cover
a variety of activities such as collection development, acquisitions, serial control,
cataloguing shelving and preservation. Most of these services are considered by
librarians as important resource sharing activities, increasing efficiency and improving
quality of services and products. However, not all of these services and activities, for
different reasons, are the subject of international data flow.
Among the technical services which found great application in trans-border data flow is
shared cataloguing, which refers to the cooperative exchange of records among
libraries (mostly national libraries) contributing to the reduction of work and costs. A
library does not need to create a cataloguing from an original work, but can copy
records developed by another library. The best known international record transfer –
the MARC Network – is developed within the framework of IFLA‟s UBCIM Core
7.2.3 Trans-border flow of bibliographic records
Reference databases constitute the major part of the publicly available databases.
Library catalogue databases belong to this category.
National bibliographic records are produced by national bibliographic agencies
(national libraries), increasingly, in machine-readable form. Every year new institutions
are reporting are reporting on the availability of national bibliographic catalogues in
MARC format and declare their willingness for exchange and distribution as well as
adherence to the existing International MARC Network.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the
Conference of Directors of National Libraries produced a special document in the form
of guidelines to assist national bibliographic agencies in determining what terms and
conditions they wished to place on the inter-national of their national MARC records
and, where possible, to use a common terminology.
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The guidelines contain precise indications on how to organize international transfer
and/or exchange of bibliographic machine-readable catalogues.
First of all they explain how to define a list of common objectives:
The guidelines recommend three groups of objectives for consideration:
- Shared Originator and Recipient Objectives. e.g., to promote Universal
- Objectives predominantly associated with the Originators e.g., to obtain
- Objectives predominantly associated with the Recipient e.g., to reduce the
cataloguing costs of the Recipient and of other Organizations;
The guidelines further enumerate a list of points normally should be included in inter-
national agreement on transfer or exchange of MARC records.
The following essential points should be retained from this list:
- Parties and contact persons;
- Nature and purpose of agreement;
- Governing law;
- Service /products with detailed specification; e.g., physical medium; means of
delivery (online, etc);
- Major provisions. e.g. Recipient obligations; Originator Obligations;
- General provisions. Agreement terms and renewal, modifications or termination
7.2.4 Trans-border flow of data on serials
Another type of trans-border dataflow of library and information services is
represented by the International Serials Data System (ISDS) created in 1971, which is a
worldwide system for identification and processing of periodicals and other serials
publications; it consists of a network of National Centres with an International Center
located in Paris.
ISDS assigns a standard identification code to serials, the so-called ISSN – International
Standard Serial Number, and builds, maintains and publishes an international database
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containing bibliographic records of serials available on CD-ROM, tapes and
The ISDS database also serves as a resource sharing mechanism. Various systems, and
particularly some union catalogues of serial, extract the records from the ISDS
database, and sometimes add to them the extra field they need for their specific
requirements, such as location and holding data.
The networking concept implies connectedness, cooperation, resource-sharing and
complexity of relationship at different levels; individual, group, institutional etc. It also
indicates a medium of transmission whereby distant points are connected.
On the international scene there exist many kinds of information and library networks
of different meaning and importance, involved either in traditional information
transfer by people based systems such as conferences, seminars, and workshops, as well
as by networks using modern, machine-based systems with sophisticated computer and
Trans-border dataflow, which in all definitions implies the involvement of data
processing technologies and telecommunication uses, for the electronic transmission of
data across political boundaries, computer data networks.
The data network is a set of physical connections that support the movement of data
between end points. The media supporting the connections as well as the way in which
data is transmitted over the data network vary from network to network. The end
points might be a terminal connected to a computer to another computer.
Library data networks, stricto sensu, were developed mainly at the national level and
mostly for resource sharing agreements among local libraries, or for special purposes,
e.g., the creation of joint bibliographic databases.
At the international level there are few operating library networks, e.g., the MARC
network or the OCLC network restricted to trans-border transfer of some types of
data (catalogues, bibliographic records).
8. Library and Research Networks and Trans-Border Dataflow
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It has been observed, that for international data transmission libraries are increasingly
using (but still not enough) the existing research networks developed within the
academic community to provide the infrastructure for a variety of networking tasks.
G. Cleveland in his IFLA/UDT study made a point to point comparison of similarities
and differences between the library and research networks showing much larger
possibilities of the last type of networks.
The library networks are characterized in the following way:-
- They were developed specifically to support library technical process as shared
- They provided a particular set of services and are operated by single
- They are largely terminal –to-host networks.
- The networks and services they provide are indistinguishable;
- They are not, for the most part, connected to other library networks, and thus
are unable to exchange of data.
- Each has its own custom system architecture.
Research networks are described by Cleveland as follows:-
- They are general purpose communications infrastructures much like a highway
system is a general purpose transportation infrastructure;
- They operate in a peer-to-peer fashion, with each computer acting as an equal,
or “peer” to every other as distinct from terminal – to host networks where
terminals act as simple input devices to centralized hosts.
- The network itself is independent of particular services offered.
- They provide access to local and to remote computing and information
- They are widely interlinked with other computer networks.
- They support many services such as electronic mail, remote log-in and file
In addition to this comparison it should be pointed out that research networks provide
many more larger applications in trans-border data flow than library networks.
Because they have the ability to support many forms of communication between
44. Page - 44 -
computers and their users, research networks have the potential to evolve into an
information infrastructure that will provide greater capabilities for the management
and flow of information.
There are, however, a number of obstacles and barriers of a technological, legal and
economic nature to be overcome.
- Lack of common, international approaches for dealing with issues related to
trans-border dataflow, e.g., conflicting protocols and technical specifications
introduced in various countries.
- Restrictive legal regulations in some areas or lack mechanisms for technological
- Restrictions or prohibitions for categories of data as well as export control on
hardware and software.
The overview of trans-border dataflow issues shows that new horizons have been
opened for Libraries and Information services in International data transfer and trade.
These new possibilities have been created primarily by the advancement of information
technology and telecommunications and by the development of new library and
information products and services able to be stored, retrieved and transmitted by
The flow of data across borders also contributed to the development of an international
information market and provided a stimulus to the overall expansion of world trade.
Library and Information services and products are now considered as a commodity that
can be traded.
Trans-border dataflow in general terms can help to reduce the barriers of distance
between countries and improve International Cooperation. It gives users instant access
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to rapidly expanding pools of up-to-date knowledge and at the same time allows more
people to profit from information resources located abroad.
Transnational dataflow can contribute to the improvement of the information resources
between developed and developing countries and to the advancement of their Library
and Information Services and Managements.
Trans-border dataflow provides a new tool for Libraries and Information centres for
the most important fields of their activities:-
- Large access to bibliographic and other reference resources;
- Supply of document by accelerating procedures and by providing the delivery of
documents in electronic from directly to intermediaries or end-users;
- Inter-library loan, by simplifying the process and exchange of inter-library loan
- Library resources sharing by disseminating and exchanging the machine-
readable catalogue records;
International organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, could not only
promote access to data and information related services, but also develop common
policies in all issues of trans-border dataflow.
The subject is complex and, to come extent, controversial. It requires long international
negotiations and efforts to find the right solutions for a trans-border flow of data.
Libraries and Information Service, as intermediaries in transnational information
access, and as bodies increasingly interested in the utilization of the electronic form of
information should also contribute to the improvement of the worldwide transfer and
exchange of data.
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1) General Information Programme and UNISIST - United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (13th
Aug, 1992), Transborder Dataflow of Library
and Information Services, An overview and a policy checklist, Paris.
2) Hardy, I. Trotter, "Transborder Data Flow: An Overview and Critique of Recent
Concerns" (1983), Faculty Publications. Paper 645,
http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/facpubs/645, Copyright c 1983 by the authors. This
article is brought to you by the William & Mary Law School Scholarship Repository,
3) Gupta, B.M. and Gupta, S.P., Transborder Data Flow Debate, Annals of Library
Science and Documentation, Vol 29(2), 51-63.
4) Kuner, C. (2011), “Regulation of Transborder Data Flows under Data Protection and
Privacy Law: Past, Present and Future”, OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 187,
OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg0s2fk315f-en.
5) Garry S. Grossman, Transborder Data Flow: Separating the Privacy Interests of
Individuals and Corporations, 4 Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus. 1, (1982)