This year’s ExpressVPN’s Future of Privacy Scholarship essay contest will invite applicants to examine the subject of government regulation in ensuring (or suppressing) online privacy. The topic of the essays will focus on the risks of trying to govern the internet by decree:

Technology companies can self-regulate to provide optimal privacy to internet users. The free market will choose the winners to be those companies that best protect their users, without the need for government interference. Do you agree or disagree?

At first glance, the subject might seem needlessly political. While that might be a turn-off for some, the current legislative climate surrounding online privacy should be worrying regardless of anyone’s political affiliation.

According to ExpressVPN, this year’s Future of Privacy Scholarship topic selection was provoked by the recent regulatory efforts by Western governments to curb internet freedoms, as well as some of the tech giants’ ability to influence these legislative projects.

Examples of such legal controversies include America’s net neutrality repeal, the EU’s introduction of the GDPR, and Australia’s encryption ban. Anyone with at least a passing interest in the subject of online privacy remembers these decisions coming into effect, to the dismay of the absolute majority of internet users and privacy activists alike, present company included.

Submit your entry before August 31 and win a $5,000 prize.

High school, undergraduate, and graduate students from the US, Canada, United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa are eligible to submit their entries before August 31, and the winning author will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Encouraging students to examine the issues of online privacy and giving a worldwide platform to the best works is a wonderful idea. With the Future of Privacy Scholarship entering its fourth year, ExpressVPN has expanded the contest to include more than thirty additional countries, previously having accepted entries from the US and the UK exclusively. We can only hope that the scholarship initiative grows into a worldwide project in the future.

On that note, what do you think? Should online privacy be regulated by the government or allowed to be independently guided by the invisible hand of the free market? Let us know down in the comments.