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What is privacy and why does it matter?

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What’s behind the statement that all of us make sometimes: “that’s none of your business!”?  Have you ever thought about when and why you regard your information or behaviour as private?

These are questions that we all need to grapple with in a platform economy, the basis for which is the collection and use of vast amounts of personal data.

Some regard privacy as a human right, integral to our personhood.  Others regard it as an asset, tradeable for commercial value. There is also a view that privacy is essential to the workings of a liberal democratic society.

In this episode of Competition Lore we are joined by Professor Colin Bennett, a political scientist who specialises in privacy, from the University of Victoria in Canada.

In a wide ranging rich discussion, Colin explains how the meaning of privacy is highly context-specific, what kinds of value we ascribe to it and how it sometimes bumps up against other competing public interests including free speech and a free market.

We talk about the international trade implications of data protection and about the governance of privacy at an international level, including how big tech companies are weighing into the policy and public discourse, what he thinks about the claim that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation is a form of digital protectionism… and much much more.

This episode is longer than previous episodes but is jam-packed with information and insights you will not want to miss... 

If you’re keen to learn more about privacy, here’s a sample of Colin’s recent work:

The European General Data Protection Regulation: An instrument for the globalization of privacy standards?, 2018

In Defense of Privacy: The Concept and the Regime, 2011

International Privacy Standards: A Continuing Convergence?, 2010

The Governance of Privacy: Policy Instruments in Global Perspective, 2016 (2nd ed) (with Charles Raab)

The Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance, 2008

What Government Should Know about Privacy: A Foundation Paper, 2001

Visions of Privacy: Policy Choices for the Digital Age, 1999 (Rebecca Grant)

Or you can visit his personal website at

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded.

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