Public lecture by UN Privacy Rapporteur, Joe Cannataci

Presented by ANU College of Law

The human right to privacy raises global policy, legal and political challenges in the information age. Issues such as data retention, data breaches and the interaction between public security versus private autonomy, are all creating a diversity of public debates in Australia and around the world.

In 2015 the UN Human Rights Council responded to these challenges with the appointment of the first Rapporteur for Privacy; Professor Joseph (Joe) Cannataci. His appointment is a significant global milestone in the protection of privacy as a fundamental human right and his work has already attracted significant new interest, debate and awareness of privacy issues.

As part of Privacy Awareness Week 2016, Canberra will have the chance to hear the only free general public address by Professor Cannataci during his first visit to Australia. This is your chance to hear first-hand the views of a world leading authority in privacy and data protection rights, in what is sure to be a thought provoking presentation.

About the speaker

Professor Joe Cannataci: was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy in July 2015. He is the Head of the Department of Information Policy & Governance at the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences of the University of Malta. He also holds the Chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law within the Faculty of Law at the University of Groningen where he co-founded the STeP Research Group.

Professor Cannataci's visit to Australia is at the invitation of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. Privacy Awareness Week is an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) forum. It is held every year to promote and raise awareness for privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information. For further information about Privacy Awareness Week visit

Hosted by the ANU College of Law

A message from Professor Cannataci

ANU is home to the archives of Bill Stanner, one of its most influential Professors, and a man who had a profound impact on how Australia came to improve the way it dealt with the fundamental human rights of its first peoples, the aborigines and Torres Straits islanders. When Stanner published his collection "White man got no dreaming" in 1979 he was actually laying out for us his many insights into what we may also call the information ethics of Australian indigenous peoples. Few people today appear to remember Stanner's seminal essay from 1977 "Privacy and the aboriginal people", Manuscript #400 on the Barwick List, an essay intended for the Australian Law Commission, the use of which remains unknown, yet it was included by me in my 2015 book "Privacy and the Individual".

When I visit ANU as the UN's Special Rapporteur on Privacy I will draw on my deep, long-standing interest and on-going research in privacy-related behaviour by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In my presentation, titled "White Man Got No Dreaming...or got no privacy, or both?", I will talk about my ten-point plan for my UN mandate while drawing inspiration from Stanner's reflections about how Australian Aborginal people and Europeans both share common ground in their understanding and their need for privacy. I wish to will appeal to Australians to use their modern and ancient heritage to realise that they are keepers of an eternal flame of truths about what privacy is all about and to respond to their calling to take a lead on the international stage in creating a society where privacy is properly safeguarded in order to ensure that a global consensus is achieved around this invaluable fundamental human right.