Course Information
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  Course Information
Introduction and Background

This UNITAR online course on is a foundation course developed to provide participants with an introduction to the increasingly important areas of privacy and data protection law. Technological advancements have led to unprecedented changes in how personally identifiable information is shared. While many of advancements have had positive impacts on how we work, live and communicate with one another, some of these same advancements have also increased the risks that of certain negative consequences such as invasions of privacy, identity theft and other harms.

As a result of these perceived risks, lawmakers across the globe have been struggling to adopt rules that will protect individual privacy rights while still allowing for technological advancements. At present, there is a diversity of viewpoints as to how privacy risks should be managed from a legal perspective. Some countries, such as the United States, have adopted an approach that addresses particular issues. For example, in the United States, there are privacy laws that apply to health information, financial information and other specific types of data but there is not a single omnibus privacy law. Conversely, jurisdictions such as Canada and the European Community have opted for broad-based privacy laws that cover all personally identifiable information, irrespective of the type of data and/or industry involved. Still other countries are still grappling with determining whether they should enact new laws to protect privacy and if so, in what way.

The divergence of views on privacy regulation leads to a lot of complications in the international marketplace, especially when one considers that the volume of personally identifiable information that is exchanged online, a medium that knows no borders. Companies that require personally identifiable information are often left confused about what privacy laws are applicable to them. Meanwhile, regulators and lawmakers continue to seek out ways to ensure that the protections that they have elected to pass to protect the privacy and data protection will apply even when information is being collected and/or used by entities located outside the national territory. Ultimately, many individuals remain uncertain about the scope of their privacy rights and how to protect them.

This foundation course aims to shed light on the current regulation of privacy and data protection across the globe. The instructor will incorporate timely issues into class discussions and motivate students to contemplate possible solutions to pressing privacy problems.

Registration Status: OPEN
Deadline for Enrollment: when slots are full
Course Dates: November 8 to December 10, 2010
Estimated learning time: Minimum of 35 hours
Format: Online/Internet-based (asynchronous)
Language of Instruction: English
Fees: US $ 400/-
Helpline: UNITAR Geneva (Course Administration and Technical Questions)
  Course Objectives  

At the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

  • Define the concepts of "privacy" and "data protection" and explain the role of these concepts in the modern interconnected global economy;
  • Compare the American and Canadian approaches to privacy protection and explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches;
  • Explain how privacy and data protection are regulated in the European Union;
  • Discuss trends in privacy and data protection throughout key world regions, including South America, Africa and Asia; and
  • Examine the particular challenges faced by countries in the developing world, as they work to protect individual privacy rights, while also facilitating the growth of electronic commerce.
  Target Audience  

The course is designed for professionals from all sectors and professions, including: government, public finance, investment, trade, corporate finance, project management, treasury, as well as academic circles and civil society.


  Course Structure / Outline  

Course Structure

This online course will involve a mix of self-study and online interaction culminating in a practical understanding of privacy and data protection law through online group work. Throughout the duration of the course, participants will go through theoretical and conceptual material prepared by UNITAR and will have an opportunity to relate it to real-life situations through online discussions and peer-to-peer interaction. There will be a quiz/assignment at the end of the program.

Course Outline

This course will comprise of the following modules, each covering a one-week period.

Module 1: Introduction to Privacy and Data Protection Law; United States (Part 1)

At the conclusion of Module 1, participants shall:

  • have a clear understanding of how privacy is regulated in the United States;
  • be able to identify key federal privacy laws in place in the United States and understand the role of these laws in protecting privacy; and
  • be equipped to identify strengths and weaknesses in the US approach to privacy and data protection

Module 2: The United States (Part II); Canada

At the conclusion of Module 2, participants shall:

  • understand the role of state law in privacy protection in the United States and to identify key state laws designed to advance privacy rights;
  • describe the role of the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") in protecting privacy;
  • be able to identify the key elements of Canadian privacy law; and
  • be equipped to describe the similarities and differences between American and Canadian approaches to privacy and data protection.

Module 3: Europe

At the conclusion of Module 3, participants shall:

  • understand the role of Directive 95/46/EC in data protection and privacy;
  • be able to describe the key elements of Directive 95/46/EC;
  • understand how European privacy and data protection laws have influenced the development of privacy rights across the globe; and
  • be able to describe the US Safe Harbor program and to understand its strengths and its limitations.

Module 4: Other World Regions

At the conclusion of Module 4, participants shall:

  • be able to identify trends in privacy protection around the world
  • be knowledgeable about the privacy laws in place in a number of select jurisdictions across the globe; and
  • have opinions about the role of international treaties and conventions in privacy protection and be prepared to suggest necessary provisions for such international treaties and conventions.
  Other Course-related Information
This course will be conducted over the internet using UNITAR's e-Learning infrastructure for a four week period. Participants will require a minimum of 60 minutes of study each day. The course pedagogy will allow for three levels of interaction. At the first level, the participants will interact with the training content and reading material provided. At the second level, the participants will interact with each other through the online discussion board facility, sharing experiences, opinions and views, thereby giving the learning a contextual framework. At the third level, the participants will interact with a seasoned expert on corporate governance who will act as the course mentor. The mentor will not only moderate the course for its entire duration, but also provide feedback and discussion wrap-ups as well as respond to participant queries.

UNITAR online courses create a progressive learning environment in which participants have the flexibility to structure their own learning process and interact with peers and experts through the discussion board facility. UNITAR encourages the participants to network with each other both professionally and amicably, to establish contacts which further promote the dynamic nature of the learning experience.

The online course will be conducted in the English language.


This course is designed as an online course in which participants will be primarily responsible for their own learning. Each lesson will consist of the following components:

1) Basic Reading Materials (Compulsory Reading Materials): these materials are intended to educate the participants about the basic concepts and principles applicable to the subject-matter of the lesson. It will include, where appropriate, sample materials. These materials will constitute the required reading materials for the lesson

2) Advanced Reading Materials (Optional Reading Materials): this will consist of optional reading materials for participants who wish to learn more about the topic than what is covered in the lesson.

3) External Links: This will refer the interested participants to additional books, articles, documents, and websites that deal with the issues raised in the lesson.

4) Glossary: A glossary of terms tailored to the online course will be provided to the participants and act as a learning support during the entire course.

5) Quizzes: At the end of each lesson there will be a set of quizzes for participants to answer. These quizzes are designed to test the participant's understanding of the lesson. Participants are required to pass each quiz and obtain at least 80% or more passing grade in order to be eligible for a certificate. All quizzes will need to be taken online.

6) Community Discussion Board: There will be a community discussion board available on which participants can post questions or comments that can be seen by the instructor and the other participants. This discussion board will be moderated by the course director and UNITAR. Structured discussion strings will be posted on a weekly basis.

All successful participants will be eligible to a certificate after completion of this online course.


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