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Advanced Introduction to Privacy Law

Megan Richardson

Presenting a concise, yet wide-ranging and contemporary overview of the field, this Advanced Introduction to Privacy Law focuses on how we arrived at our privacy laws, and how the law can deal with new and emerging challenges from digital technologies, social networks and public health crises. This illuminating and interdisciplinary book demonstrates how the history of privacy law has been one of constant adaptation to emerging challenges, illustrating the primacy of the right to privacy amidst a changing social and cultural landscape.
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Introduction

Megan Richardson

Extract

Should we even be thinking about privacy in the current age? In this book, I argue that we should, for all the ongoing and anticipated socio-technological challenges. Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge the scale of the challenges. The public internet with its architecture of open communication, underpinned and supported by digital technologies, certainly presents a special challenge to any idea that privacy can be maintained in the face of such a powerful force for transparency. And the implications of the digital context go well beyond the ‘network of networks’.1 Digital technologies shape devices and processes which rely on continuing accessibility to personal information, including of the most intimate kind, to carry out their functions. Their capacities for collection, storage, search, analysis, combination and dissemination of data of millions of people (or indeed just one or a few targeted persons or groups) give enormous power to those in a position to exercise control over the technologies vis-à-vis subjects. In short, we live in a ‘global information society’, where ‘information technology governs virtually every aspect of our lives’, as Justice Dr D Y Chandrachud observed in Puttaswamy v Union of India in 2017.2 In these settings, it is not surprising to see the possibility of privacy becoming the subject of doubt, even while looking for ways to support it.

The doubt was there from the beginning. When John Perry Barlow proclaimed in the early 1990s that information ‘wants to be free’,3 he was not just announcing the futility...

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