Instructor(s): Lisa Austin, Michael Birnhack

For graduate students, the course number is LAW6019HF.

Note: The Blackboard program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Blackboard as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.

Note: This course will meet some weeks for four (4) hours and some weeks not at all, for an average of two (2) hours per week over the term.

The course dates are as follows:
January 4, 16, 18, 23, 25 in room J225
March 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 at [location]

This course will cover the fundamentals of data protection law, which is the globally dominant legal model of privacy protection for the private and public sector. We will look to different jurisdictions for examples of such legislation, including Canada, Israel and the EU, and examine the questions that arise when companies operate in a global environment with different regulatory requirements and different cultural values. This understanding of the global context of data protection law will be further enhanced through engagement with: a) the critical academic literature discussing data protection law in relation to novel challenges related to developing methods of data analytics and emerging business models so that we can ask whether this model requires reform; and b) some foundational ideas related to privacy enhancing technologies as well as transparency enhancing technologies so that we can ask whether technology, rather than law, can solve some of these problems.

Format: This is a new and unique course in its format and structure. Students will learn about the general topic and delve into a specific project, by directly engaging and working with students from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto (UofT) / Tel Aviv University (TAU). The course is co-taught by Professor Lisa Austin (UofT Law) and Professor Michael Birnhack (TAU Law) and will involve students from both faculties.

In the first phase of the course, students at each faculty will study a set of common materials with their home professor during January 2018.

The second phase will involve cross-faculty teamwork: students will be placed in teams, each composed of two students from each faculty, and assigned a privacy problem to work on. These problems will be drawn from actual examples in a variety of contexts, including: transportation systems, wearables, social media, and learning environments. There will be no classes in February but the groups are responsible for creating a research plan and are expected to utilize appropriate technology to facilitate discussions between the Toronto and Tel Aviv team members.

The third phase will take place during March 2018 (7 two-hour meetings). The students will study in a joint class linked through video conferencing technology. These classes will be co-taught by professors Austin and Birnhack and may also involve several guest lectures from engineers, regulators, or industry representatives. Students will present early results of their projects for feedback during these joint classes.

The final projects will be delivered in the form of a report prepared by each team analyzing their case study (approximately 10,000 words). These case studies will allow students to deepen their knowledge of the seminar topics by working in a global team and approaching the issues from multiple jurisdictional perspectives, engaging in problem-solving from a policy-making perspective, and practicing legal research skills.

Participation [10%] (attendance, active class participation, participation and contribution in team discussions); Presentation [20%]; Final Project [70%]. Please note: Although students will submit their projects as a group, students from UofT and TAU will receive a final grade that is consistent with their own domestic grading system. Prerequisites: The first phase is meant to assure that all students share the same background, hence no prior background is required.

At a Glance

Second Term
Perspective course


12 JD
12 TAU students


T: 8:30 - 10:20
Th: 8:30 - 10:20