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BRIC Openness and Privacy (Yahoo!/Georgetown ISD research)

BRIC Openness and Privacy (Yahoo!/Georgetown ISD research)

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Published by Ben Turner
In the near future, most of the world's internet users are going to come from five countries: the US, Brazil, Russia, India, and China (or USABRIC). Each country has a profoundly unique culture and government-institutional memory that will shape how its citizens interact online through social networking sites (SNSs). But hard culture has been caught up in a swirling vortex of attitudes and customs online, where sharing more data about oneself and getting more connections and friends provides social capital benefits that can exceed the benefits from a country's cultural norms and its appetite for being more open about itself or more closed about itself. Thus, a desire for standardization in the form of a global social networking system is strong -- as shown by Facebook's rapid growth worldwide. As this standardization becomes more normal, though, hard cultures will emerge again and shape the way that SNSs look and feel and perform so that peoples' online data truly reflects their identities. But it will be through a model -- one which I propose -- of transparency in which users have greater control over their own data yet they still share it willingly, according to their cultural comfort levels.
In the near future, most of the world's internet users are going to come from five countries: the US, Brazil, Russia, India, and China (or USABRIC). Each country has a profoundly unique culture and government-institutional memory that will shape how its citizens interact online through social networking sites (SNSs). But hard culture has been caught up in a swirling vortex of attitudes and customs online, where sharing more data about oneself and getting more connections and friends provides social capital benefits that can exceed the benefits from a country's cultural norms and its appetite for being more open about itself or more closed about itself. Thus, a desire for standardization in the form of a global social networking system is strong -- as shown by Facebook's rapid growth worldwide. As this standardization becomes more normal, though, hard cultures will emerge again and shape the way that SNSs look and feel and perform so that peoples' online data truly reflects their identities. But it will be through a model -- one which I propose -- of transparency in which users have greater control over their own data yet they still share it willingly, according to their cultural comfort levels.

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Published by: Ben Turner on May 06, 2009
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"The BRIC Countries' Openness and Privacy Expressed Through Social Networking"
 Yahoo!/Institute for the Study of Diplomacy Junior Fellow Research: Ben Turner, May, 2009I. Introduction
In the near future, most of the world's internet users are going to come from fivecountries: the US, Brazil, Russia, India, and China (or USABRIC). Each country has aprofoundly unique culture and government-institutional memory that will shape how itscitizens interact online through social networking sites (SNSs). But hard culture has been caught up in a swirling vortex of attitudes and customs online, where sharing moredata about oneself and getting more connections and friends provides social capital benefits that can exceed the benefits from a country's cultural norms and its appetite for being more open about itself or more closed about itself. Thus, a desire forstandardization in the form of a global social networking system is strong -- as shown by Facebook's rapid growth worldwide. As this standardization becomes more normal,though, hard cultures will emerge again and shape the way that SNSs look and feel andperform so that peoples' online data truly reflects their identities. But it will be througha model -- one which I propose -- of transparency in which users have greater controlover their own data yet they still share it willingly, according to their cultural comfortlevels.
II. DefinitionsII.A. Privacy 
The word "privacy" is an incredibly ambiguous term in English, and its meaningis even more confusing when a synonym is selected in a different language. But usually the meaning of "privacy" in an English sense takes on two broad dimensions. AmitaiEtzioni, in his book "The Limits of Privacy", speaks at length on the Fourth Amendment
 
and its implications for providing scrutiny, but not a rigid, quickly-outdated legalregulation for privacy:
"At issue here is much more than an accurate definition of privacy; at the very heart of this discussion is the appropriateness of social formulations of thegood, the point of contention that separates communitarians from bothindividualists and social conservatives. For individualists, who strongly opposesocial formulations of the good and believe that each person should be free toform and pursue his or her own good, and who thus seek to maximize bothprivate choice and privacy, the distinction matters little. For social conservatives,especially religious fundamentalists who would rely on the state to enforce their values -- for instance, to suppress pornography -- and who are willing to curtail both private choices and privacy, the difference between these two concept is alsoof limited import. In contrast, the distinction is crucial for communitarians (atleast for responsive ones), who hold that important social formulations of thegood can be left to private choices -- provided there is sufficient communalscrutiny!
That is, the best way to curtail the need for governmental control and intrusion is to have somewhat less privacy.
This point requires someelaboration.""The key to understanding this notion lies in the importance, especially tocommunitarians, of the 'third realm'. This realm is not the state or the market (orindividual choices), but rather the community, which relies on subtle socialfostering of prosocial conduct by such means as communal recognition,approbation, and censure. These processes require the scrutiny of some behavior, not by police or secret agents, but by friends, neighbors, and fellow members of voluntary associations."
1
The first dimension of privacy is one of openness versus closedness. Whenpeople speak of being a "private person", exhibiting "privateness", they mean that they do not share a lot about themselves to outsiders or even those close to them. They keeptheir hand close to their chest. They are not very "open", which implies that someone would freely share a lot of details about himself. Thus on a continuum, some people are
1
Etzioni, Amitai. "The Limits of Privacy", Basic Books, 2000, pp. 212-213
 
more "public" or "private" than others, and this approximates with being "open" and"closed".The second dimension of privacy comes in terms of control. When one wants hisown "privacy", what he is asking for is the control and right to decide how and whenothers can interact with him. When users on online social networking sites (SNSs)speak of "privacy settings", what they are intuitively looking for are the controls whichallow them to decide who can see their personal information. "Privacy" is a proxy  word for "security". "Privacy" tends to represent a metaphorical wall, whereas"privateness" means a state of being closed to others.Perhaps a good way to suss out the distinction in the meaning is through Latinand Russian translations, provided in a blog post by Margarita Rayzberg:
"According to the online translators (and my father) privacy is translatedas 'конфиденциальность', or confidentiality. The etymology of the two words arerevealing:"Privacy comes from the Latin privatus 'set apart, belonging to oneself'(not to the state), used in contrast to publicus, communis."Confidentiality comes from the Latin con (with) fidel (trust)."The two words imply opposite directions: privacy implies a distancing, aseparation, while confidentiality implies proximity, closeness. One describes arelationship between the individual and the state, the other between individuals.One is about keeping out; the other is about bringing in. Or as one of my Russianfriend interprets: 'Privacy excludes everyone but myself, whereas confidentiality excludes everyone but me and the people I trust. This is more in line with Russianand American relationships with personal information.'"
2
Thus I will try to be precise when using certain terms, using "openness","closedness", and "privacy" to mean different things.
II.B. Online Openness vs. Closedness
2
Rayzberg, Margarita. "Culture and Social Media: The Issue of Privacy", Gnovis blog, 11 Nov08. http://gnovisjournal.org/blog/culture-and-social-media-issue-privacy

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