Comparative Online Privacy – Spring 2015
Online privacy has become a major issue for Internet users, technology companies, online business, researchers, and policy-makers around the world, as more and more personal information is collected, aggregated, shared, and used across a wide variety of contexts. Policy-makers on both sides of the Atlantic - and globally - have been responsive to concerns expressed by users, consumer organizations, activists, and academics, and have proposed an important series of new laws, regulations, and other privacy-enhancing instruments at the international and national level. At the same time, the approaches aimed at regulating the respective information practices on the Internet - targeting social networking sites, online advertising, data aggregators, and the like - as well as the details of the proposed privacy norms are highly controversial.
In this interactive seminar, we will identify, map, analyze, and discuss latest developments in privacy law related to the Internet from a comparative perspective and put them into a broader context. The focus will be (although not exclusively) on business data and consumer privacy. Specifically, in the first part of the seminar we will introduce competing theories and models of online privacy and map current policy proposals as well as regulatory action and court cases from various jurisdictions onto such a matrix. In addition to discussing theoretical frameworks and analyzing current developments in online privacy, we will also take a closer look into qualitative and quantitative studies regarding privacy attitudes and practices online, and ask how such findings from research have shaped - or should shape - both the theoretical frameworks as well as the actual application of law. In the second part, the seminar examines in greater detail a series of particularly important case studies and emerging issue areas - including student privacy in the context of cloud computing and "big data" social science research. In the third and final part, seminar participants will identify and discuss future scenarios for online privacy in the globalized economy and examine the strategic and legal implications of such scenarios.
A small number of outside speakers will be invited to participate in a subset of class meetings.