Introduction to the Special Issue:
The Second International Conference of the Asian
Privacy Scholars Network
Asian Privacy Scholars
For some years European and North American privacy scholars have had the
benefit of an annual conference at which to present their research and meet
scholars with similar interests. In the USA the best-known such event has
been hosted annually in turn by Berkeley and George Washington
Universities, and in Europe it has been the Computers, Privacy and Data
Protection (CPDP) Conference held in Brussels in January each year. Asian
privacy scholars have lacked such a regular opportunity, although regulators
in the region have six monthly Asia-Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA)
meetings, and the Institute of Privacy Professionals, and commercial
conference organisers, ensure there is no shortage of opportunities for
consultants, privacy officers, and businesses to meet.
The Asian Privacy Scholars Network (APSN) was created from a desire to
provide such an opportunity to meet and share research for those interested
in privacy regulation (and other aspects of privacy scholarship) in Asia-
Pacific countries. The need to ‘meet’ was taken as both physical and virtual,
so a mailing list (an old-fashioned one, not a surveillance-prone social
network version) was also envisaged. Since privacy and data protection in the
Asia-Pacific has no central laws or institutions comparable to the US
Constitution, or the European structures (Directive, Convention, Court of
Human Rights, Article 29 committee), the unifying interest in APSN is the
way in which privacy interests are reflected in widely differing legal and
social systems.
The initiative to establish the APSN came from the University of New South
Wales (UNSW) Law Faculty’s Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, which had
built up substantial contacts in the region over the previous decade through
its ‘Asia-Pacific Privacy Charter’
and ‘Interpreting Privacy Principles’

projects. There were 19 participants at the March 2010 Symposium held at
UNSW and titled ‘International perspectives on privacy regulation: Privacy

See Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, Asia-Pacific Privacy Charter Initiative (2014)
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, Interpreting Privacy Principles (2014)
2 Journal of Law, Information and Science Vol 23(1) 2014
Principles in Asia Pacific economies compared’.
That event was therefore the
formation of the Network, and its inaugural conference. A closed majordomo
mailing list followed shortly. The APSN currently has 50 members from
across the Asia-Pacific,
with a broad definition of ‘Asia’ that includes Turkey
and Israel, plus Canadian and Australasian scholars in the ‘Pacific’
component. Membership is by nomination and consensus of existing
members, and open to scholars (defined broadly) with an interest in the
development of privacy and data protection laws in the Asia-Pacific region.
The 2
APSN Conference was held at Meiji University, Tokyo in November
and the 3
APSN Conference at the University of Hong Kong in June

Papers from the second APSN Conference: ‘Privacy in the Social
Networked World’
With the publication of this Special Issue of the Journal of Law, Information
and Science, the APSN has taken a significant step forward in communicating
research arising from its networking. Presenters at the Conference were
invited to submit full papers of their talk for this Special Issue. As with the
conference, there is a mix of papers on the central theme of the conference
(privacy and social networking) and on some broader issues of privacy and
data protection in Asia/Pacific and around the world. Greenleaf covers the
global question of how many privacy/data protection laws there are, giving a
definition of what it means to have such a law and coming up with the
perhaps surprising calculation that over one hundred jurisdictions now have
something that appears to be a broad-based regime, although with wide
variation on both the regimes of enforcement and on the details of the laws.
Keeping with a transnational theme but approaching the conference theme,
Bennett et al cover the long-running, though now mostly resolved, dispute
between Canadian privacy authorities and (primarily US-based) international
social media companies as to how much Canadian privacy law applies to the
operations of such entities when they are used by Canadian residents/citizens.
Trottier moves further into the conference theme of social networking,
remaining with a Canadian focus with a report on his work on the use of
social media for social and criminal investigations into activities during riots
in Vancouver in 2011.

For details of the 1
Conference, convened by Graham Greenleaf and David Vaile
of UNSW, see Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, Asian Privacy Scholars Network
(2014) <http://www.cyberlawcentre.org/privacy/apsn.htm>.
See Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, Members of the Asian Privacy Scholars
Network (2014) <http://www.cyberlawcentre.org/privacy/apsn_list.htm>.
Convened by Kiyoshi Murata and Andrew Adams of Meiji and Graham Greenleaf
of UNSW; see the Conference report at <http://ssrn.com/abstract=2207543>.
Convened by Anne Cheung of HKU; see the Conference report at
Introduction: Conference of the Asian Privacy Scholars Network 3
Ramasoota and Panichpapiboon then provide us with an Asian perspective
on online privacy, reporting on the social attitudes in Thailand. Drawing on
questionnaires and in-depth interviews this paper highlights the threats to
privacy in a country with deep political and social divisions and a lack of
public appreciation for the consequences of a lack of privacy in such
Murata et al report on a range of interesting results from surveys of Japanese
youngsters and their attitudes to their online privacy. In particular their study
reveals some deep contradictions between high-level attitudes towards online
privacy (eg privacy policies for online shopping sites are important) and real
actions (eg no one ever reads privacy policies for online sites).
Adams then analyses the impact of the choices made by platform operators
with regard to issues such as anonymity/pseudonymity/’real names’ and
visibility defaults on not just the behaviour but also the internalised attitudes
of users of social network sites. In this he makes clear the link between
broadly accepted elements of social psychology (conformity, post-decision
bias) and the results of the expressed attitudes and actions of SNS users, to
demonstrate the significant power of platform operators in influencing users,
often against users’ best interests and pre-existing desires.
Finally, Clarke provides an analysis of the market potential for a less invasive
and more user-controlled social network service, avoiding a potential crash in
trust and confidence in existing services which treat their users more as prey
than partners.
Privacy and data protection in the information age are large questions with
many and subtle traps for ordinary users, network service providers,
legislators and privacy activists. The wide-ranging interdisciplinary
approaches used in the papers presented at the conference and those now
appearing in this Special Issue provide, we hope, useful contributions to this
ongoing debate about the interaction of law, social science and engineering in
the social networked world.
The conference was supported by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of
Science under grant ‘Organisational and Individual Behaviour, and Personal
Information Protection in the Age of Social Media’ (Kakenhi (B) 24330127).
The conference was supported by Japan’s MEXT (Ministry of Education,
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan) Programme for Strategic
Research Bases at Private Universities (2012-16) under grant ‘Organisational
Information Ethics’ (S1291006).