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Paperback | $36.00 Short | £29.95 | 382 pp. | 6 x 9 in | May 2006 | ISBN: 9780262524537
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The Governance of Privacy

Policy Instruments in Global Perspective


Privacy protection, according to Colin Bennett and Charles Raab, involves politics and public policy as much as it does law and technology. Moreover, the protection of our personal information in a globalized, borderless world means that privacy-related policies are inextricably interdependent. In this updated paperback edition of The Governance of Privacy, Bennett and Raab analyze a broad range of privacy policy instruments available to contemporary advanced industrial states, from government regulations and transnational regimes to self-regulation and privacy-enhancing technologies. They consider two possible dynamics of privacy regulation—a "race to the bottom," with competitive deregulation by countries eager to attract global investment in information technology, versus "a race to the top," with the progressive establishment of global privacy standards.

Bennett and Raab begin by discussing the goals of privacy protection, the liberal and individualist assumptions behind it, and the neglected relationship between privacy and social equity. They describe and evaluate different policy instruments, including the important 1995 Directive on Data Protection from the European Union, as well as the general efficacy of the "top-down" statutory approach and self-regulatory and technological alternatives to it. They evaluate the interrelationships of these policy instruments and their position in a global framework of regulation and policy by state and non-state actors. And finally, they consider whether all of this policy activity at international, national, and corporate levels necessarily means higher levels of privacy protection.

About the Authors

Colin Bennett is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. He is the author of The Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance (MIT Press, 2008) and coauthor (with Charles Raab) of The Governance of Privacy: Policy Instruments in Global Perspective (updated paperback edition, MIT Press, 2006).

Charles Raab is Professor of Government in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Edinburgh.


“A fresh and direct approach to the issues at stake, leaving the reader with the recognition that privacy protection is indissolubly bound up with social and economic policy issues of modern society.”
Anne Carblanc, OECD, Paris
“A tour de force. In this book, two political scientists present the result of a decade of scrutiny of information privacy regulatory practices. It also offers an extremely insightful analysis of different dimensions of information privacy laws in different countries.”
Paul Schwartz, Brooklyn Law School
“Unavoidable for all those interested in the architecture of privacy protection and in using it to better preserve and enhance our privacy.”
Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor
“Regulating privacy and data protection must be focused on outcomes, not mindless legal compliance. More and more private and public organizations are recognizing the sensitivity and importance of the issues. This wide-ranging and thought-provoking book guides policy makers and regulators to identify and elaborate the outcomes which need to be pursued. It is also a stimulating resource for others who want or need to wrestle with rationale, method, and result.”
Richard Thomas, Information Commissioner
“This book should be required reading for any serious student or practitioner concerned about the privacy of personal information in our globally networked society.”
William H. Dutton, Director, Oxford Internet Institute
The Governance of Privacy is required reading for those of us seriously concerned about the politics of privacy and data protection in the global information age.”
David Flaherty, former Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia