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This subject examines the relationship between surveillance and privacy, with a particular focus on the challenge of regulating new surveillance technologies and protecting informational privacy. Beginning with a brief overview of the history of identification and mass surveillance (such as census-taking, record-keeping, as well as passports and identify cards), the subject focuses on how the law in countries such as the Australia, the UK and the US has been used to protect privacy rights and restrict the use of overly intrusive surveillance techniques by the state and private sector.
Principal topics include:
- An overview of the history of surveillance, with a particular focus on the relationship between state surveillance and governance
- A detailed examination of different conceptions and justifications of individual privacy (including a critical analysis of the idea that there should be a free-standing right to privacy)
- A critical examination of how various forms of state and private sector surveillance are regulated in Australia, the UK, and the US
- A close examination of the regulatory challenge posed by emerging surveillance technologies, including various forms of biometric surveillance, data mining, and communications interception
- Discussion and debate about the legal and philosophical limits of privacy, focusing on such questions as whether there should be a right to privacy in public spaces or a general right to online anonymity
- A critical examination of the prospects for law reform in the areas of surveillance and privacy in Australia, the UK, and the US.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced understanding of the history of surveillance, and critical appreciation of the sociological, and political relationship between surveillance and individual privacy
- Have an advanced understanding of how privacy has been legally framed and understood in Australia, the UK, and the US
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the challenges posed by new surveillance technologies to traditional legal conceptions of privacy
- Have a detailed understanding of the legal regimes for the regulation of state and private sector surveillance in Australia, the UK, and the US
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the different approaches to the regulation and restriction of surveillance in Australia, the UK, and the US
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to surveillance and privacy
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the relationship between surveillance and privacy to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Last updated: 3 November 2022