Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Computers History

The Governance of Privacy

Policy Instruments in Global Perspective

by (author) Colin J. Bennett & Charles Raab

MIT Press
Initial publish date
May 2006
History, Privacy, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2006
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Analyzes privacy policy instruments available to contemporary industrial states, from government regulations and transnational regimes to self-regulation and privacy enhancing technologies.

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 a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria. His research has focused on the comparative analysis of surveillance technologies and privacy protection policies at the domestic and international levels. In addition to numerous scholarly and newspaper articles, he has published six books, including The Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance (MIT Press, 2008), as well as policy reports on privacy protection for Canadian and international agencies. He is currently a coinvestigator with the The New Transparency: Surveillance and Social Sorting.

Colin J. Bennett's profile page

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

Charles Raab's profile page

Other titles by Colin J. Bennett