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Distributed for Athabasca University Press

Controlling Knowledge

Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection in a Networked World

In Controlling Knowledge, Lorna Stefanick offers a provocative inquiry into the regulatory regime that governs freedom of information and the protection of privacy (FOIP). The application of FOIP laws requires a balancing act between two potentially competing goals — the desire to provide citizens with access to the information they need in order to hold others accountable and the desire to safeguard an individual’s right to privacy and protect sensitive information from abuse. To illustrate the impact of FOIP, Stefanick examines the secondary uses of medical data, looks at the forms of surveillance that the digital age has enabled, and explores the power and perils of Facebook and the Internet.

Intended to serve as a “citizen’s guide,” and written in refreshingly down-to-earth language, Controlling Knowledge is a vital resource for anyone seeking to understand the concepts and issues that drive FOIP legislation and how these laws are shaping our individual rights as citizens of the information age.


264 pages


Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements ...  ix

1. An Introduction to Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection ...  1

Accessing and Protecting Electronic Data  ...  1

Accountability and Autonomy  ...  5

Unpacking the Concepts  ...  8

Transparency, Privacy, and Good Governance  ...  13

Overview of the Book  ...  23

2. Privacy Protection ...  29

The Many Dimensions of Privacy  ...  29

The March Toward Regulation  ...  37

Data Flow, the Thirst for Information, and the Problems of

Privacy Protection  ...  46

Privacy Protection, Personal Autonomy, and Control  ...  59

3. Freedom of Information (FOI) ...  63

Transparency for the Public Good  ...  63

The March Toward Regulation  ...  71

Administrative Practice: Challenges to the Culture of Openness  ...  79

Information Access, Equity, and Fairness  ...  93

4.Sharing Medical Information: Antidote or Bitter Pill? ...  97

The Special Case of Health Information  ...  97

Electronic Health Records  ...  99

Privacy and Confidentiality  ...  103

Secondary Uses of Medical Information  ...  111

Managing Health Information  ...  122

5. Surveillance in the Digital Age ...  125

Surveillance as a Form of Social Control  ...  125

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