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
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.