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Computer Privacy Thesis

Computer Privacy Thesis

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Published by anne adams
Dr. Anne Adams Computer Thesis 2001 on 'users perceptions of privacy in multimedia communications'
Dr. Anne Adams Computer Thesis 2001 on 'users perceptions of privacy in multimedia communications'

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Published by: anne adams on Jul 06, 2009
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02/04/2013

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Chapter 1: Introduction
Adoption of multimedia communications has vastly increased over the past decade and with the rapidadvance of network and compression technology, this expansion can be expected to continue growing(Crowcroft et al., 1999). Applications for this technology include real time remote collaboration (e.gvideoconferencing, virtual reality), broadcasting of multimedia data on a global scale (e.g multicastlectures, seminars and events on the Internet; Macedonia, & Brutzman, 1994) and digital libraries of recorded multimedia data. However, ubiquitous computing has global implications across domains andcultures. The increase in the provision of more varied data and ways of accessing it is not only leadingto potential information utilisation benefits but also associated privacy risks.As multimedia is a nebulous term that is vastly overused it is essential to clearly define this expression.Since multimedia communications rely on digital media the following definition has been applied forthis research:"…
computer-controlled integration of text, graphics, still and moving images,animation, sounds and any other medium where every type of information can berepresented, stored, transmitted, and processed digitally
." (Fluckinger, 1995)It is also important to understand the many interaction variations that can occur with this technology.Multimedia communications can vary between the style of interaction (synchronous or asynchronous)to the location (local or remote) and number of participants (from one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many). However, as Goffman (1981) highlights communication can still occur only in one direction(e.g from speaker to hearer/s). With regard to privacy it is also vital to note the degree of involvementthe system end-user has with the technology system as this could relate to their interaction awareness.This thesis therefore reviews communication at all levels of user and system interactivity (e.g systeminteractive, system semi-interactive, system non-interactive).It is often suggested that privacy is a basic human requirement (Schoeman, 1992). However, privacy,within technically mediated interactions (i.e. users interacting with technology to achieve goals), is acomplex phenomenon, which varies across individuals, organisations and cultures. The process of defining this phenomenon is complicated further by different disciplines’ research of this issue fromdifferent perspectives, using contrasting terminology and methods. Legal definitions attempt to defineclearly
Private Information
or actions (Rubenfeld, 1989; Reinman, 1995). Psychologists seek tooperationally define the phenomena for experimentation whilst computer scientists address users’privacy capabilities through system control and feedback. Although it is important to review all theseperspectives and ensuing definitions, to provide a context for this investigation (see Chapter 2), theresearch reported in this thesis seeks to explore and define users’ perceptions of privacy. To this endprivacy will not be pre-operationally defined as it is suggested that this will reduce the researches’ biastowards this phenomena. Taking this approach will provide the research with the flexibility to pursueany aspects of privacy that are defined by the users.
 
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1.1 RESEARCH PROBLEM
As global multimedia communications supports interactions it also assists in the
 freedom of information.
However, identifying the limits of users’ acceptance of privacy risks is also important asperceived infringements of privacy may lead to the rejection of a communication technology thusdecreasing its commercial viability.Pivotal to the concept of privacy is a notion of the individual and their relationship with society(Wacks, 1989). For us to be private there must be a public environment to be private from. Privacyand thus being private can only be reviewed within that public context (Goffman,1969; Agre, 1997
1
).Privacy is therefore an important concept within social interactions and communications. Technologymediated communications also have related privacy implications, which are greatly increased withinmultimedia interactions. Multimedia environments can produce user perceptions of a relatively normalinteraction whilst distorting the communication sphere and decreasing social cues so that naturalassumptions are inaccurate. Multimedia communications also incorporate more complex data (withassociated privacy risks) than other technically mediated interactions. Whereas a simple textcommunication will relay the basic information in a conversation, audio and video communicatefurther personally defining information that can be potentially more invasive. For example, an emailmay show that someone is upset about an issue, but the sound of a shaky voice and seeing their tearsmay reveal just how emotional they have become. This type of multimedia scenario may becomeinvasive if the user did not want or know that this information was being transmitted.Davies (1997) argues that there are many inalienable privacy rights which should never be disregardedwhen developing systems. Similarly, Bennett (1997) maintains that privacy experts understandpotential privacy risks at a greater depth than users. Both of these arguments have directed privacyresearch and identification of privacy requirements in system development towards appraisals byprivacy experts. However, privacy relies on our perception of it. It is not necessarily important howprivate or safe we are (although this is a vital component) but whether we perceive ourselves to be safeand private. Therefore identifying users' perceptions of privacy is an important element in bothdistinguishing what needs to be protected and how best to protect it. Empirical research into users'privacy perceptions, however, is very limited, especially within multimedia communications.This thesis seeks to address these knowledge gaps by detailing users’ perceptions of privacy withinmultimedia communications thus identifying the cause of potential privacy risks and how they can beaddressed in the design, implementation and use of this technology. To this end three main researchaims will direct this thesis:1. To identify factors affecting users’ perceptions of privacy within multimedia communications.
1
As Agre (1997) points out information is not a commodity but strongly embedded in the way we liveour lives.
 
142. To isolate factor relationships causing potential privacy invasions and potential solutions.3. To verify a model of these factors and their relationships through further research and externalexpert evaluations.
1.2 RESEARCH SCOPE
The main objective of this research is to develop an understanding of the impact that user perceptionsof privacy have on their attitudes to, and behaviour within, multimedia communication environments.Bellotti & Sellen (1993) point out that inadequate feedback and a lack of control for users can causebreakdowns in technology mediated interactions, and often lead to users rejecting the technology orusing it in a less effective manner. This will then potentially effect the commercial viability of technological advances. This review also, therefore, aims to reflect any dynamic changes intechnology that occur and their effects on users' perceptions and usability.It is important to define the scope of this thesis so that the reader can identify limitations when applyingthe findings. Therefore, a detailed account of the research scope will be presented in three sections:(A) Users' (B) perceptions of privacy within (C) the domain of multimedia communications.
(A)
 
Although users’ cultural backgrounds may be key in shaping users’ privacy perceptions this thesiswill not review these broad and complex issues. A western (UK and US) privacy focus will be taken,as this research is limited to these participants by access issues.As the users' technical experience has been noted as an important factor in privacy perceptions (Preeceet al., 1994) this thesis will seek to compare both novice and expert user perceptions. Since the subjectarea is sensitive, capture of personalised details such as age, sex and occupation is deemed too sensitivefor capture across all studies. However, as far as possible, a representative sample of the userpopulation will be obtained for each study.
(B)
 
This research aims to identify user privacy perceptions prior to, during and after a perceivedinvasion of privacy has occurred. This is to identify key factors that guide perceived invasions of privacy and processes that induce this occurrence.Although users’ perceptions of legislation, policy and standards or privacy mechanisms may be in-directly applicable to this thesis (users disregarding certain issues as they are – inaccurately – perceivedto be secured by privacy legislation or privacy mechanisms) users’ direct perceptions of these issuesare outside its scope. In-direct issues will also not be a key focus here.
(C)
Multimedia conferencing via IP multicast and Virtual Reality will both be reviewed within thisresearch to increase the generalisation of results. Varying levels of system interaction (e.g interactive,semi-interactive and non-interactive) will also be reviewed since awareness and system controls are

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