School of Law

Research Student: Jeremy M. Harmer

Is Internet Privacy Doomed? An international, comparative study.

Is there any privacy on the Internet? It has been under attack for some time, both by governments and private enterprise.

Governments have the desire to find out what people are doing and where they are. Private enterprise has the desire to make money. Intelligence gathered by a government may be used in the fight against terrorism. The private sphere may use it to target advertising.

In addition, the network generation has a lower expectation of privacy due to their free exchange of personal information on social networking websites.

Three jurisdictions are chosen for study.

  • The UK, which has strong data protection laws but has no actual legal definition of the right to privacy
  • The USA, with some constitutional protection of privacy, but weaker data protection
  • China, often seen as an enemy of rights, yet the Chinese people value their privacy as much as anyone else

All three jurisdictions have 'spy' laws and systemic surveillance.

This research investigates Internet privacy as a concept, determines how it is handled in each jurisdiction, and examines how it is affected by surveillance.

It examines the balance between the privacy needs of the people and of the State in applying surveillance to protect those people. In comparing the three jurisdictions, it poses the question: are the UK and the USA the new China when it comes to invasion of privacy?

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