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EIT Digital

Privacy in the Western World

EIT Digital via Coursera


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Welcome to this course about privacy, We are thrilled to see that you are interested and will provide you with a comprehensive study of this intriguiging subject. We hope this course will enthuse you to look further into privacy and personal data regulation. Especially in the light of recent events it becomes more important to know about your (alleged!?) rights and freedoms. After showing you a number of interesting examples of privacy in recent events, this course continues to provide you with an historic introduction, and varying cases and court decisions. It will guide you through the cultural and legal changes in perception of privacy over time. Sometimes with a more technological perspective. Notably, in the Western world differences have accumulated over time and the differences between the USA and Europe will be explained extensively in the follow-up courses. Through video lectures and quizzes we endeavor to build a solid foundation for you to construct a well-founded opinion on privacy. Last but not least we sincerely hope you enjoy the course! Jan Smits


  • Introduction
    • This is the introduction to the course on Privacy. This first week we start with a number of introduction videos to demonstrate the importance of privacy in examples from all over the world. It is interesting to see how privacy has been put under pressure because of increased security, of freedom of enterprise of social media, and of technological possibilities. After this weeks lesson's we dive deeper in history to see where privacy legislation is coming from, how it relates to human rights, and the recent developments to its current status. We hope you enjoy this course.
  • A Historic perspective
    • While privacy and personal space are being debated more and more over the course of the information age, personal data was stored long before the rise of the internet. In the first module we will address the collectors and overseers of our historic data.
  • Expert view
    • We visit an expert on cybercrime, cyber-investigation, privacy and data protection.
  • History communality
    • Many differences exist between European and American society nowadays. However when looking closely at the establishment of an independent people with constitutional rights we may also see some similarities...
  • 19th century specialized international treaties
    • With increasing cross-border travel and services, countries realised that in order to handle them effectively, deals had to brokered. By drafting and signing treaties on specific subjects they managed, while not giving up too much of their own sovereignty.
  • International Cooperation and Human Rights
    • After agreeing on specific subjects countries learned that in order to avoid conflict more safeguards and cooperation was required. The two world wars showed that absence of good arbitration over conflicts and lacking international cohesiveness could lead to humanic atrocities. This module focuses on the response the world made to avoid these events from ever happening again: to protect human live and to protect human rights.
  • Last three decades
    • The rise of the computers also brought along a need to protect privacy in the digital environment. Conceptualizing proper protection of personal data and pursuing infringement still provides a great challenge for policy makers.
  • Examination
    • The final quiz and opportunity for you to demonstrate that you mastered the content of this course. Good luck!

Taught by

Jan Smits


5.0 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

4.4 rating at Coursera based on 201 ratings

Start your review of Privacy in the Western World

  • Profile image for Desiree Correia
    Desiree Correia
    A wonderful way to step back and look at the big ideas and issues leading to modern privacy laws. Very concise, informative and the professor is a joy to listen to. I can highly recommend this course to anyone working with privacy in the modern world.
  • Profile image for T.Philip Paul Arunodhayam
    T.Philip Paul Arunodhayam
    Wonderful Course! The professor is really knowledgeable both in technology and international law. And this course is kind of practical, one incident is that one of the professors shows his shoulders in order to avoid facial detection. This was a wonderful experience !
  • Anonymous
    A great and insightful course. It gives you the foundational knowledge needed to understand the importance of privacy and why it must be protected.
    After doing this course you can get various insights into your privacy rights. You can even analyse legislations of your countries with respect to privacy and make useful observations in them. This is a very insightful course.
  • Anonymous
    This course gives a very good introduction to the right to privacy.
    The interview with Prof. Koops was really brilliant: he provides a very interesting framework.

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