Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US

Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US

The development of mobile and interconnected computing has, in many ways, positively affected the efficiency, convenience, and enjoyment of people’s everyday lives. At the same time, however, these connections and devices increase the potential for more pervasive forms of digitally mediated surveillance by media companies, marketers, governments, employers, and Internet Service Providers. This project evaluates mobile users’ mental models of privacy alongside perceived social costs, affordances, and (un)anticipated byproducts associated with the pervasive use of mobile technologies. Specifically, it focuses on cultural and contextual factors that influence privacy attitudes and behaviors in two Western contexts: the US and the Netherlands. Through a collaborative, multidisciplinary investigation of three cross-cutting ecosystems of mobile data sharing that highlight both emergent and longstanding privacy challenges associated with data surveillance: (1) health and fitness tracking, (2) mobile messaging, and (3) intelligent personal assistants, the research team will evaluate how cultural and contextual practices influence individual users’ attitudes toward privacy and surveillance generally, as well as their attitudes toward specific facets of mobile technologies and specific actors involved in data transactions. The goal of these evaluations is to inform both conceptual models and practical implementations that pertain to the digital self, with an emphasis on tensions between privacy, disclosure, mobility and surveillance in the US and Europe. The proposed research will occur in three phases. Phase 1 provides preliminary understanding of privacy awareness and practices across the three mobile ecosystems. Building on these findings, in Phase 2 the research team will develop and implement a cross-cultural survey focusing on unpacking contextual nuances in privacy attitudes, expectations, and practices through multilevel modeling using data from "privacy vignettes" and individual characteristics. Phase 3 focuses on dissemination of findings to key stakeholders and policymakers, and creating an international working group of researchers in this space.

Duration: 
September 2016 - August 31, 2019
Funder: 
National Sciecne Foundation
Total Award Amount: 
$166,456

Principal Investigator: