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Throughout history, the protection of privacy has faced an ongoing challenge to keep pace with developments in technology. Never has this challenge been more apparent than in the current digital age where technological innovation is constant and the accumulation of electronic information is massive. Accordingly, appreciation of the technological context is an essential aspect of this course.
The growth of the internet has led to a certain globalisation of privacy issues that poses both opportunities and threats for the protection of privacy. With the lack of jurisdictional boundaries online, internet companies can be compelled to comply with local privacy and data protection regulations worldwide. Differences in regional understandings of privacy remain however, and the study of different approaches to the protection of privacy can enable better understanding of privacy and its role in society.
Several different fields of law are relevant to the issue of privacy and suitable topics have been selected to explore how privacy operates in these distinct contexts. Topics to be studied include:
(1) The foundations and history of the right to privacy: US, UK, Irish, and European approaches
(2) Data Protection and the global reach of privacy laws
(3) Developments in technology: a comparison of US and European approaches
(4) Government surveillance
(5) Privacy and the Press
(6) Social networks and privacy
(7) Access to Information Law
Questions of policy are central to the course and students are encouraged to consider the political, economic, and technological issues that inevitably surround the regulation of privacy issues. Critical engagement with the debate taking place in both the academic literature and the general press will be encouraged through assigned readings.
Any aspect of this module may be changed in any given academic year, subject to the discretion of the module lecturer.