University of New South Wales - Faculty of Law - LAWS 3037

Data Surveillance & Information Privacy Law

Research Essay Topics - 2001

Graham Greenleaf , Nigel Waters and Chris Connolly, revised10April 2001

Formal requirements

Suggested essay topics ...

Topic 1 - You need approval for your proposed case study if you choose Topic 1:

1 Case study of surveillance practices and impact of privacy law

The organisational scope of your case study may be: (i) a specific business; (ii) a specific government agency; or (iii) a class of businesses or agencies (an 'industry sector'). The organisation(s) concerned must be principally organisations located in Australia.

 Your case study must include the following elements:

 (i) A brief (1,000 word maximum) description of the main practices of the organisation(s) concerning personal information, including an analysis of the types of surveillance techniques that these practices comprise.

 (ii) A brief description (500 words maximum) of any laws that require, authorise or facilitate these practices ('data surveillance laws').

 (iii) An analysis of the impact of Australian privacy laws (whether or not they are yet in force) on the organisation(s) concerned, which should mention (but is not limited to) the following:

(iv) A brief (500 word maximum) assessment of how effective these privacy laws are (or are likely to be) in finding an appropriate balance between the interests of the individuals concerned, the organisation(s), and the public.

 If the organisation you propose might come within an exemption from a privacy law (eg the 'small business operator' exemption), you must not only analyse whether it will come within the exemption, but also the implications of whether it will or it will not.

Procedure: Send an email giving a brief description of the organisational scope of your proposed case study to <>, and we will approve it or discuss it with you. Do not write a case study without obtaining prior approval.

Topics 2-4 - These topics may be chosen with no further approval required.

2 Direct marketing

Analyse the extent to which the Privacy Act 1988 regulates direct marketing practices in the private sector, including marketing by mail, telephone and Internet. Include in your answer an assessment of whether the legislation is sufficient and effective to protect the interests of the individuals concerned, and of the businesses concerned, and make recommendations as to how the law should be changed (if at all) in light of your analysis. You should take into account that the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) is likely to seek approval of an industry code of conduct under the Privacy Act, and should refer where applicable to the existing voluntary ADMA Code Include in your essay consideration of the small business exemption as it relates to direct marketing.

3 Data matching

Write a critical analysis of the extent to which legislation an d guidelines applying to public sector agencies in the Commonwealth and in New South Wales controls the practice of 'data matching'. Include in your answer an assessment of whether this regulation is sufficient and effective to protect the interests of the individuals concerned, and the public interest, and make recommendations as to how the law should be changed (if at all) in light of your analysis.

4 Internet privacy

How will the Privacy (Private Sector) Amendment Act 2000, when it is fully in force, affect the operation of web sites on the Internet? You should cover both (i) The operators of commercial web sites based in Australia, in relation to both their Australian customers and their overseas customers; and (ii) The operators of overseas web sites who have customers in Australia.

 In your answer you should consider the position of web sites that make use of such information concerning visitors to their sites as IP addresses, email addresses, information obtained using cookies, and information obtained from third parties. Include a brief assessment (less than 1000 words) of any changes that are needed to the Australian legislation in order to ensure appropriate privacy protection to Australian users of the Internet

If you want to suggest your own essay topic ...

Here is a short list of other subject areas from which topics could be developed for approval . These are not approved topics, merely starting points for you to develop your own topic and obtain approval. The class teachers are willing to help develop an essay topic in one of these areas if a student is particularly interested in writing on the topic. The approved essay topic would then be advertised on the class list, and would also be available to other students. These are only intended to be a few examples of what may be suitable essay topics if further work is done to make them somewhat more precise.