Locational privacy willingness – a framework

Gonçalo Jorge Morais da Costa, Nuno Sotero Alves da Silva and Piotr Pawlak


During ETHICOMP 2008 the authors have proven that tourists’ locational privacy is a myth (Costa, Silva & Pawlak, 2008)! Hence, the aim of this manuscript is to shed some light over the lack of control of locational privacy, what is a desirable state of such, and a conceptual framework that allow citizens and governments to achieve a desirable condition.

Despite literature claim that a key feature of Web 2.0 is the ability of users to control their personal information O’Reilly (2005) through multiple applications (e.g. Norrie, 2008), the truth is that empirical evidences clearly demonstrate continuous violations to personal privacy (Brandimarte, Acquisti & Loewenstein, 2010) since informational existentialism reshapes Heidegger‘s concept of appropriation (being and time) (Costa & Silva, 2010). Considering that Web 2.0 applications are omnipresent in several recent technologies, as for instance iPad, iPhone, smartphones mobile phones, etc. it is feasible to claim that locational privacy is also at steak (e.g. Hill, 2011). Although is vital to address the concept of locational privacy, as well as its evolution.

According to Blumberg & Chase (2007) locational privacy is the ability of an individual to move in public space with the reasonable expectation that their location will not be systematically and secretly recorded for later use. Or, concerns the utilization of information with reference to an individual’s current location to grant additional relevant information and services to that individual, being a specific type of context-awareness (Duckham & Kulik, 2006). Bearing in mind again the complex interaction among global and local systems (stakeholders, technologies and regulations) emerges glocal privacy (Costa, Silva & Pawlak, 2008), which is consistent with Meyrowitz (2005) argument.

Eric Gordon (2009) claims that local information access is no longer restricted to the geographic location, due to the network configuration or distributed fluxes of information in spite of the undefeatable cultural barriers that glocality imposes; so, a desirable state of locational privacy must cluster peoples’ sharing willingness into categories (Olson, Grudin & Horvitz, 2005) even at a political level (Bellier & Wilson, 2000). The question is extremely difficult to answer unequivocally, because the ratio between center and locality is differently understood over the nations (Bomberg, Peterson & Stubb, 2008). However certain common values can be observed, accepted by most of societies, setting out a framework of privacy for both individuals and local communities.

In order to present a conceptual framework the authors will first draw their attention to the work of Pedersen (1999). Pedersen presents a consolidated model for the attainment of five privacy needs for each of the six types of privacy (figure 1).
Figure 1. Diagram of the types of privacy by privacy functions

The five privacy functions were autonomy, confiding, rejuvenation, contemplation, and creativity. In accordance with the model the users’ profiles describe six types of privacy (solitude, reserve, isolation, intimacy with family, anonymity, intimacy with friends). Both dimensions of the matrix will be under scrutiny into the light of web 2.0 applications and locational privacy as a way to develop a novel conceptual framework.


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