Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Technology Users Are Failing To Take Adequate Steps To Protect Their Digital Privacy

Date:
September 6, 2008
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
Technology users are failing to take adequate steps to protect their privacy in digital society. In the face of technology that will soon be able not only to track an individual’s movements but predict them too, people are far too relaxed about protecting their privacy, according to one social psychologist.

Technology users are failing to take adequate steps to protect their privacy in digital society. New research urges for positive guidelines for technology designers through ‘face-keeping.’

Related Articles


In the face of technology that will soon be able not only to track an individual’s movements but predict them too, people are far too relaxed about protecting their privacy, according to social psychologist Saadi Lahlou, writing in a special issue of Social Science Information on cognitive technologies, September 4, 2008.

According to Lahlou, and other authors in the special issue describing recent experiments, the combination of information and communication technologies and pervasive computing will soon enable continuous monitoring of individual activity, beyond what was imagined by 1984 author George Orwell.

What Lahlou terms “the system” – referring to the mass of interconnected data-collection devices from mobile phones, to internet sites, to surveillance cameras – can search, compare, analyze, identify, reason and predict the movements, motives and actions of individuals, he warns. Even such a transient event as gaze is now traceable by automatic devices.

What is more, if several systems for tracking movement, position or activity are combined – for example, combining GPS information with phone signals or triangulation with wireless internet signals – then individuals stand little chance of being able to hide their position or actions.

“We are creating a system that will be aware of all that we do: when we turn on the washing machine, what we write and to whom, where we go and what we do there, what we buy and when with whom and how we use it … and this virtually from cradle to grave. The system as a whole will know more about us than we know about ourselves,” Lahlou writes.

But while many surveys show that such developments leave users concerned about privacy, they are not taking appropriate measures to protect themselves or their data. Lahlou explains this discrepancy by invoking what he calls the “privacy dilemma”: the fact that social interaction through new technologies requires disclosure of personal data: information is fed into the system precisely to get better or customized service.

Surveys of system designers also show that although they seem as privacy-concerned as system users, they do not prioritise protection measures in their products, citing reasons such as lack of moral responsibility or the necessity to prioritise maximum efficiency of the system. And, argues Lahlou, because current guidelines – which advise limitation of data collection, protection of collected data, limitation of use to initial purpose, right of access, etc – are negative rather than positive, i.e specifying what designers should not do rather than what they should, they do not help promote respect for privacy into new technologies.

He proposes a new definition of privacy as something he terms “face-keeping”: “We all have many faces (combinations of role and status), but each one is used only in some settings,” he explains. Privacy breach, Lahlou argues, is being presented with a ‘wrong’ face, one that is not consistent with the situation (e.g. being seen at work in a family role).

So, reasons Lahlou, given that continuing technological advances will leave few with the option of withholding information about themselves, users’ privacy should be protected by employing an approach to design in systems that helps users to wear exactly the face they want to show in the domain at hand and nothing more.

He suggests a constructive approach through the development of positive guidelines for designers, giving them concrete steps to be taken to ensure the protection of users, combined with well thought out limits on the expansion of data collection. “If we want to safeguard privacy, we must turn to limitation of the tracking systems themselves and to legal regulation,” Lahlou says. “The face-keeping perspective gives designers a positive goal because they can tailor systems to a very specific set of roles and statuses for the user, instead of following vague instructions for avoiding potential problems.”

“We believe a good system should always be on the user’s side. Forcing the designers to take the user’s point of view in the construction of specifications is one more step in that direction,” he concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "Technology Users Are Failing To Take Adequate Steps To Protect Their Digital Privacy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080904220346.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2008, September 6). Technology Users Are Failing To Take Adequate Steps To Protect Their Digital Privacy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080904220346.htm
SAGE Publications. "Technology Users Are Failing To Take Adequate Steps To Protect Their Digital Privacy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080904220346.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) This is the latest development in an antitrust investigation accusing Google of unfairly prioritizing own products and services in search results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins