Controlling Knowledge: Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection in a Networked World

Controlling Knowledge: Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection in a Networked World

Lorna Stefanick

Language: English

Pages: 275

ISBN: 192683626X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Digital communications technology has immeasurably enhanced our capacity to store, retrieve, and exchange information. But who controls our access to information, and who decides what others have a right to know about us? In Controlling Knowledge, author Lorna Stefanick offers a thought-provoking and eminently user-friendly overview of current legislation governing freedom of information and the protection of privacy.

Aiming to clarify rather than mystify, Stefanick outlines the history and application of FOIP legislation, with special focus on how these laws affect the individual. To illustrate the impact of FOIP, she examines the notion of informed consent, looks at concerns about surveillance in the digital age, and explores the sometimes insidious influence of Facebook. Specialists in public policy and public administration, information technology, communications, law, criminal justice, sociology, and health care will find much here that bears directly on their work, while students and general readers will welcome the book’s down-to-earth language and accessible style.

Intended to serve as a “citizen’s guide,” Controlling Knowledge is a vital resource for anyone seeking to understand how freedom of information and privacy protection are legally defined and how this legislation is shaping our individual rights as citizens of the information age.

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scientifically based doctrine of “racial hygiene” was prominent in Europe and in North America. This doctrine was based on a crude misconstruction of Darwin’s theory of evolution, claiming that some human lives were superior to others and that only the fittest would survive. Those who were poor demonstrated their lack of fitness through their failure to thrive economically. This thinking was applied to entire populations of people, resulting in hierarchies of human groups wherein particular

Eyes Patrol Here,” civil liberties groups denounce the initiative as a “snooper’s paradise” that would result in the most minor of misdemeanours being broadcast to the world. Others liken the constant watching and reporting to situations in former communist states or even Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, wherein families, neighbours, and friends would denounce one another to the authorities. By April 2010, the site had attracted 14,659 registered gamers and the attention of the non-profit privacy

old one that will not be resolved here.37 A modern twist to this debate, however, is that the tools of surveillance can be reversed so that the watchers become the watched. Pessimists despair that the power of large multinational companies and nations such as the United States is unassailable; they are convinced that privacy is dead and that the conglomeration of power within large all-knowing and all-seeing entities is inevitable. But new technology can be used to reverse the direction of

the “terms and agreement” section of the sign-up page, nor do they read the site’s privacy policy. Thus they remain ignorant of how social networking sites use their data. In addition, they may not have put much thought into which users should have access to their digital identity and what the negative aspects are of losing control of this identity. Studies indicate that men and women use social networking sites differently. Women typically use social networks to share personal information,

sharing their information with search engines or with third-party application developers. The Canadian privacy commissioner also waded into the fray, openly musing about a fresh Facebook investigation. A spokesperson for her office complained, “Although they’ve done some things right, in a few areas, they seem to have gone in the opposite direction and that’s been disappointing.” These events led a Canadian research chair in Internet and e-commerce law to observe in 2010: “This is getting ugly.

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