Governance (GOVN) 377

Issues in Access to Information and Privacy Protection (Revision 1)

GOVN 377

Revision 1 is closed for registrations, see current revision

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None; however, a previous course in social science is recommended. This is a senior course and as such students are expected to have advanced analytical and writing skills.

Precluded Course: GOVN 377 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under 3 different disciplines—with LGST 377 and CRJS 377. GOVN 377 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for LGST 377 or CRJS 377.

Course Textbook: The textbook for the course, Controlling Knowledge: Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection in a Networked World is available for free download from AUPress.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Governance, Law & Management Home Page

GOVN 377 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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The proliferation of the internet and other new technologies has had a seismic impact on our ability to create, collect, store and share information. These new communication technologies promise great benefits for the transparency associated with good governance, but also conjure up images of a society where individual privacy is non existent, replaced by the all-knowing, all-seeing “big brother” in either its corporate or governmental versions.

GOVN 377: Issues in Access to Information and Privacy Protection explores how society grapples with the issues surrounding information access and protection of privacy. It overviews a range of access and privacy debates, including the place of surveillance, anti-terrorism measures, social networking, and the sharing of health information in a free and democratic society.

A shortened summary of some of the concerns raised in this course might look like:
Internet + biometrics + data mining + RFID technologies = corporate/government “big brother”
Internet + Freedom of Information (FOI) + social networking = transparency and good governance?

Concerns about information access and privacy protection have given rise worldwide to Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection legislation. The course reviews how this legislation can protect and promote societal transparency and privacy, in addition to its conceptual basis.


The course consists of the following eight units.

  • Unit 1: Information access and privacy in a networked world
  • Unit 2: Information Privacy: Legislation, policy and personal autonomy
  • Unit 3: Information Access: Freedom of information and democracy
  • Unit 4: Privacy and Access to Information in the Health Sector
  • Unit 5: Public Safety, national security and surveillance
  • Unit 6: New technologies: data mining, matching, and management
  • Unit 7: Research: the implications for access and privacy
  • Unit 8: The brave new world of data management


To receive credit for GOVN 377, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a mark of at least D (50 percent) on the final examination, and obtain a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Moodle quiz 10%
Report Summary 20%
Research paper outline and bibliography 10%
Research paper 25%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Lorna Stefanick. Controlling Knowledge: Information Access and Protection of Privacy in a Networked World. Athabasca University Press, 2011.

Other materials

All other materials are available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the GOVN 377 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination, and an overall grade of at least D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
Online quiz 10%
Report Summary 20%
Paper Outline 10%
Research paper 25%
Exam 35%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, September 22, 2011