Privacy in the Age of the Hacker: Balancing Global Privacy and Data Security Law

59 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2012

See all articles by McKay Cunningham

McKay Cunningham

Concordia University School of Law

Date Written: August 29, 2012


The twin goals of privacy and data security share a fascinating symbiotic relationship: too much of one undermines the other. The international regulatory climate, embodied principally by the European Union’s 1995 Directive, increasingly promotes privacy. In the last two decades, fifty-three countries enacted national legislation largely patterned after the E.U. Directive. These laws, by and large, protect privacy by restricting data processing and data transfers.

At the same time, hacking, malware, and other cyber-threats continue to grow in frequency and sophistication. In 2010, one security firm recorded 286 million variants of malware and reported that 232.4 million identities were exposed. To address these evolving threats, modern security techniques analyze and process massive amounts of data. The Article posits that international law increasingly favors privacy, throwing the symbiotic relationship out of balance. By restricting data processing and by failing to exempt data processing for security purposes, global privacy laws undermine private data by increasing its vulnerability.

Keywords: privacy, data, international

Suggested Citation

Cunningham, McKay, Privacy in the Age of the Hacker: Balancing Global Privacy and Data Security Law (August 29, 2012). George Washington International Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

McKay Cunningham (Contact Author)

Concordia University School of Law ( email )

501 W. Front St
Boise, ID 83702
United States

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