LLAW6046 LLAW 6199  - Master of Laws in Information Technology Law  -  University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

LLAW 6046 Privacy & Data Protection

Course web pages: http://www2.austlii.edu.au/privacy/

Course Outline, Objectives & Assessment

  • 1. Focus and objectives

  • 1. Focus and objectives

    1.1. General description

    This subject examines the use of data surveillance (the techniques of social control through the use of information technology) in both the public and private sectors, and information privacy (or 'data protection') law as a response. The pervasiveness of Internet use by business, government and citizens has placed both data surveillance and privacy protection at the centre of the emerging information economy and information society.

    This subject examines surveillance and privacy principally through the focus of Hong Kong laws, but emphasising their place in an emerging international context of surveillance practices and privacy laws. The comparative international aspects will focus on the Australian and New Zealand privacy laws (the other two laws in the Asia-Pacific most similar to the Hong Kong law), and the EU's privacy Directive (which influences all European laws, and the Asia-Pacific laws).

    1.2. Objectives

    The objectives of teaching and studying this subject are:

     1. To examine the concepts of 'privacy' (particularly 'information privacy' or 'data protection') and 'surveillance' (particularly 'data surveillance') and to attempt to identify the values at issue in laws dealing with these subjects.

     2. To undertake a reasonably comprehensive and critical survey of those laws (statutory and other) that protect information privacy, and limit surveillance, and those that facilitate data surveillance. The emphasis is on the law applying in Hong Kong (including the common law), and those aspects of international and comparative law that are most relevant.

    3 In particular, an assessment will be made of whether an international privacy jurisprudence is emerging.

    1.3. Pre-requisites

    There are no other subjects as pre-requisites. Students will have to acquire the necessary skills to use the subject's internet resources - ie use of e-mail and use of the world-wide-web.

    1.4. Issues and topics to be covered

    The course is based around a detailed examination of the substantially similar 'information privacy principles' (IPPs) that are the core of all of the laws studied. There will be a systematic examination of the IPPs dealing with the 'life cycle' of personal information: collection, storage, use, disclosure, individual access, security and destruction. Remedies in common law, equity and administrative law will be considered with their IPP equivalents. The role of privacy Commissioners, industry codes, Courts and tribunals in enforcing privacy rights will be examined.

     The other main emphasis of the course is on laws limiting surveillance, and the relationship of those laws to information privacy laws.

     A class-by-class outline can be found on the subject web pages at http://www2.austlii.edu.au/privacy/scheduleHK.html . The specific topics to be covered may vary from year to year, but in 2002 the topics planned to be covered are:

    If time permits there may also be examination of information privacy laws in a number of sectors where personal information is particularly important and sensitive, such as. These topics are available as research essay topics, whether or not they are taught in class, and some Reading Guides are available.

    Other topics concerning privacy may be legitimate subjects for research essays, and approval may be obtained (see below).

    2. Teaching method

    2.1. `Seminar + internet delivery' approach

    The subject will be taught by a combination of discussion seminars and internet delivery. There is one seminar class each week, plus email discussion in between classes.

    The weekly seminars, and the email discussion, will be based around assigned reading, which will be set out in a series of hypertext Reading Guides (sometimes also called 'Study Guides') for each topic (see http://www2.austlii.edu.au/privacy/scheduleHK.html). The Reading Guides will indicate which reading is compulsory and which reading is optional, and will cover both internet resources and print resources.

     The seminars and the e-mail list will be the two mechanism for class interaction each week.

    Direct consultation with the teacher (ie not via the class list) will be as usual - by e-mail, by telephone, or in person during office consulting hours (see contact details below).

    3. Materials and internet facilities

    3.1. Materials

    The principal course materials are as follows: The Reading Guides identify many other internet and print resources which are valuable for each topic.

    4. Assessment (proposed)

    Assessment on the basis of the following components is proposed, subject to discussion in the Introductory Class.

    4.1. Research Essay (50%)- Maximum length is 3000 words

    Students will choose a research essay topic from a number of designated topics, or a 'case study' as described below. The maximum word length for the research essay is 3000 words, excluding citations and bibliography, but including any discursive footnotes. The case study option will enable a student to examine in depth the legality, use and effectiveness of data surveillance techniques, and the effects of data protection law, on one area of public administration or commercial practice chosen by them and approved by the subject convener.

     Essays must be handed in, in print form, at the Level 5 desk, so that a receipt may be obtained as is normally the case with essays. Essays may not be submitted as e-mail attachments without permission.

    4.2. End-of-Session Take Home Exam (50%)

    There will be an End-of-Session Take Home Exam which will be problem-based, and will require coverage of the whole subject. Approximately two weeks will be allowed for completion of the Take Home Exam. The maximum word length for the Take-Home Problem will be 3,000 words, excluding citations and bibliography, but including any discursive footnotes. This is a strict word limit - in the same sense as used for the Research Essay. The same rules apply for the form of submission of the Take-Home Problem as apply to submission of the Research Essay.

    4.4. Other assessment information

    Citation and other issues of academic standards

    The essay and the take-home end-of-session assessment must be documented according to normal academic standards, even though many (often most) of the resources you are likely to cite are found on the world-wide-web. The full URL must be given for all world-wide-web resources cited.

    Take care to avoid plagiarism!: You must remember that, whether you are using print or web sources, all sources which are (i) quoted, (ii) paraphrased or (iii) relied upon for significant ideas (whether or not quoted or paraphrased) must be cited, usually by a footnote on each occasion of use. If you do not do so, this is often detected, and may lead to failure in the course and possible charges of academic misconduct. Don't risk your career for the sake of a footnote, when you can get credit for good research and documentation instead.

    Relationship between objectives and assessment

    The objective of requiring a reasonably comprehensive coverage of existing law, and assessing problem-solving skills, is satisfied by the Take Home Problem, whereas the Research Essay allows students to specialise in a topic in which they are particularly interested, and to research, analyse and argue policy questions.

    5. Contacts

    Graham Greenleaf
    Professor of Law, University of New South Wales
    Distinguished Visiting Professor (2001-02) University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

    Mail: Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong

    Office: Room 502, KK Leung Bldg

    Tel: +852 2859 2931 (Office HKU) +852 2819 4324 (Home HK)

    Fax: +852 2559 3543 (UHK), +852 2819 4324 (Home HK)

    E-mail: g.greenleaf@unsw.edu.au or graham@austlii.edu.au

    19 September 2002