Topic Submissions

The Internationalisation of Information Privacy: Towards a Common Protection


  • Bo Zhao





The conventional view of privacy, at least shared among privacy scholars, is that privacy is a rather culture—dependent issue and would be interpreted much differently in various jurisdictions. Though this is pretty true in the pre—digital age, the scenario may have been under considerable change due to the fact of the creation of new social spheres and life experience by numerous new technologies in the digital age. The popular use of the Internet, portable devices, smart phones, geographical location devices, smart home facilities, as well as the accompanied exploitation of big data collected from such devices, create a new living environment or life structure in which personal data become highly valuable in market economy and critical for personal development. Not only our perception of privacy needs update in order to follow the new reality, but also people will acquire more commonly—shared life experience, sensibility and consciousness of one perspective of privacy: information privacy. Such commonalities consequent to living in the information age against the backdrop of escalating privacy invasion, all contribute to a more commonly accepted concept of information privacy; therefore the internalization or universalization of information privacy that is attributed to a more common life structure based on information digitization and connected networks and has long run impacts on our life and laws. This short article intends to explore this new tendency, namely the internalization (or universalization) of information privacy, in both life realities and different legal systems. It will first discuss what and how the digitalization of human life has contributed to a more shared life experience among human beings based on the increasing connectivity, and how this further enables or generates a common perception of information privacy across the world. Second, the article will explore how the recent legal developments in both domestic laws and international laws adapt to the new life realities beyond cultural difference and political divergence. For this purpose, definitions of information privacy are compared from different jurisdictions, International policy and law documents analysed, and various court verdicts discussed, showcasing the internalization tendency of information privacy. Last, the article proposes a coherent protection of information privacy in International law to remedy the present gridlock in improving Internet Governance after Snowden’s revelations.