Supporting Location Privacy Management through Feedback and Control

Jędrzejczyk, Łukasz (2012). Supporting Location Privacy Management through Feedback and Control. PhD thesis The Open University.



Participation in modern, socially-focused digital systems involves a large degree of privacy management, i.e. controlling who may access what information under what circumstances. Effective privacy management (control) requires that mobile systems’ users be able to make informed privacy decisions as their experience and knowledge of a system progresses. By informed, we mean users be aware of the actual information flow. Moreover, privacy preferences vary across the context and it is hard to define privacy policy that reflects the dynamic nature of our lives.

This research explores the problem of supporting awareness of information flow and designing usable interfaces for maintaining privacy policies ad-hoc. We borrow from the world of Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW) and propose to incorporate social translucence, a design approach that “supports coherent behaviour by making participants and their activities visible to one another”. We use the characteristics of social translucence, namely visibility, awareness and accountability in order to introduce social norms in spatially dispersed systems. Our research is driven by two questions: (1) how can artifacts from real world social interaction, such as responsibility, be embedded into mobile interaction; and (2) can systems be designed in which both privacy violations and the burden of privacy management is minimized.

The contributions of our work are: (1) an implementation of Buddy Tracker, privacy-aware location-sharing application based on the social translucence; (2) the design and evaluation of the concept of real-time feedback as a means of incorporating social translucence in location-sharing scenarios; and finally (3) a novel interface for ad-hoc privacy management called Privacy-Shake.

We explore the role of real-time feedback for privacy management in the context of Buddy Tracker. Informed by focus group discussions, interviews, surveys and two field trials of Buddy Tracker we found that when using a system that provided real-time feedback, people were more accountable for their actions and reduced the number of unreasonable location requests. From our observations we develop concrete design guidelines for incorporating real-time feedback into information sharing applications in a manner that ensures social acceptance of the technology.

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