Plugging the gaps on privacy protection in Cyberspace

Prest Theatre
G06, Faculty of Business and Economics
111 Barry St
Carlton, Vic 3053


Most people are leaving hundreds, sometimes thousands, of digital footprints and fingerprints in cyberspace every day.

What sometimes seems to be an unholy alliance of state entities and commercial corporations are extremely busy harvesting this data, building extremely detailed individual profiles of each and every one of us or, at the very least, retaining the capacity to do so at short notice.

Some of this is done within the boundaries of national law but a lot of this privacy-intrusive activity takes place across national borders often in grey areas which are not satisfactorily covered by international law especially when it comes to issues like jurisdiction.

Yet, in an Internet without borders, how can the individual citizen enjoy safeguards without borders and have remedies capable of going across border?

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Professor Joe Cannataci, in his March 2018 address to the UN Human Rights Council, called upon Member States to work together to address the gaps at the international level in respecting and protecting the right to privacy in cyberspace.

Professor Cannataci believes the global community needs to undertake urgent action to effectively respect and implement article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by developing a clear and comprehensive legal framework on privacy and surveillance in cyberspace, and to operationalise the right to privacy, domestically and across borders.

Hear Professor Cannataci set out his reasons for developing, with multiple stakeholders, an international instrument to respect and protect the right to privacy in cyberspace and why recent developments like the USA's CLOUD Act can, at best, only offer a partial and very interim solution until a truly international mechanism is created.

The Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy's 2018 Annual Report to the Human Rights Council is available at:

This public lecture marks the official launch of the Cybersecurity and Democracy Network at the University of Melbourne and is supported by the Networked Society Institute and Melbourne Law School's Centre for Media and Communications Law.

About our speaker

Prof Joseph Cannataci is Head of the Department of Information Policy & Governance at the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences of the University of Malta. He is also, Full Professor, holding the Chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law within the Faculty of Law, University of Groningen, The Netherlands and additionally an Adjunct Professor at the Security Research Institute & School of Computer and Security Science, Edith Cowan University Australia.

Prof Cannataci was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy in 2015. His latest book The Individual and Privacy was published by Ashgate in March 2015. Since 2015 he is appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to Privacy.

About the Cybersecurity and Democracy Network

The Cybersecurity and Democracy Network is a forum for researchers, industry, and government to meet, share and exchange ideas, build collaborations and work across boundaries to uncover and develop new ideas and solutions.

The Network, Chaired by Dr Vanessa Teague – Institute Fellow (Cybersecurity and Data Privacy) and organised by a Committee, explores the fundamental questions about the relationship between citizens and government in a world of big data, e-voting and surveillance. The team aims to design practical solutions to cryptographic problems such as secure elections and private record linkage.

The objective is to break down the barriers between academia, civil society and government, organising real conversations informed by deep technical knowledge, to deliver better engineering and public policy on our most challenging social, political and technical questions across Data and Privacy, Encryption and Surveillance, and Electronic voting and e-government.

The network undertakes interdisciplinary research based on a solid understanding of applied cryptography and the mathematics of privacy to analyse and solve practical problems. The network seeks to provide a space to support taking the hard decisions, those that involve both tremendous benefits and substantial risks.