Introducing a “multidimensional privacy attitudes scale”

As one of our first research project in SIMLAB (founded in late 2012), we (Lemi Baruh & Zeynep Cemalcılar) had been working on developing a multidimensional privacy orientation scale. The scale is summarised in an article published in November 2014 in Personality and Individual Differences.

The article reports that individuals’ decisions about level of privacy they need is determined not only by concern about themselves but also concern about privacy of other individuals:

  • There are four distinction dimensions of privacy:  (1) belief in the value of “privacy as a right”; (2) “other-contingent privacy”; (3) “concern about own informational privacy” and (4) “concern about privacy of others.”
  • A segmentation of users in terms of these four dimensions of privacy points to three distinct types of users: 1) privacy advocates,who are concerned about both their own and other people’s privacy; (2) privacy individualists, who are concerned mostly about their own privacy, and (3) privacy indifferents, whose score on all dimensions are lower than other segments.User segments are privacy advocates, privacy individualists, privacy indifferents.
  • Users who value others’ privacy are less likely to invade informational privacy.
  • Privacy individualists use social network sites for satisfying voyeuristic curiosity.
  • Reciprocating disclosure is more likely for privacy advocates than for individualists.

The multidimensional scale has 18 items, all measured using a 5-point likert scale (ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree):

Dimension 1: Privacy as a Right

  • Privacy laws should be strengthened to protect personal privacy.
  • People need legal protection against misuse of personal data.
  • If I were to write a constitution today, I would probably add privacy as a fundamental right.

Dimension 2: Concern about Own Informational Privacy

  • When I share the details of my personal life with somebody, I often worry that he/she will tell those details to other people.
  • I am concerned that people around me know too much about me.
  • I am concerned with the consequences of sharing identity information
  • I worry about sharing information with more people than I intend to.

Dimension 3: Other-Contingent Privacy

  • If somebody is not careful about protecting their own privacy, I cannot trust them about respecting mine.
  • If I am to enjoy some privacy in my life, I need my friends to be careful about protecting their privacy as well.
  • I could never trust someone as my confidant if they go around sharing details about their own private lives.
  • The level of privacy that I can enjoy depends on the extent to which people around me protect their own privacy.

Dimension 4: Concern about Privacy of Others

  • It is important for me to respect the privacy of individuals, even if they are not careful about protecting their own privacy.
  • I value other people’s privacy as much as I value mine
  • Even when somebody is not careful about his/her privacy, I do my best to respect that person’s privacy
  • I always do my best not to intrude into other people’s private lives
  • Respect for others’ privacy should be an important priority in social relations

Please feel free to use (and/or translate) scale. We would appreciate it greatly if you could notify us about an translation of the scale.

Citation information: 

Baruh, Lemi, and Zeynep Cemalcılar. 2014. “It Is More than Personal: Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Privacy Orientation Scale.” Personality and Individual Differences 70 (November). Elsevier Ltd: 165–70. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.06.042.

“Involving Citizens In Emergency Preparedness And Response” Workshop In Istanbul

Cosmic Logo

The tentative schedule for the COSMIC “Involving Citizens in Emergency Preparedness and Response Workshop”, to be held in Istanbul is now ready. 

Involving Citizens in Emergency Preparedness and Response
International Workshop
Location: Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Istanbul
Date: September 4, 2014; Thursday

For further information about the workshop, please click here or here

If you are interested in attending the conference, please register from this link. Registration is free.

COSMIC Report on Citizens’ Involvement in Crises

COSMIC (Contribution of Social Media in Crisis Management) project partners MixLab at Koç University and Hellenic Rescue Team has drafted a report on Citizens’ Involvement in Emergency Communications. The report seeks to examine the various roles that citizens may have in communications during emergencies. Also, the report maps the relationship between the use of different types of media and communication technologies—including mass media, as well as new media technologies—and citizens’ involvement in emergency communications as,

  1. potential or actual volunteers (first responders) who may aid emergency response and rescue;
  2. as social activists who may utilise online networks to organise, coordinate, collaborate or mobilise during political crises; and
  3. as citizens who report on emergencies and political crises.

With respect to the role that citizens may play as first responders, the report focuses on how various communication media are utilised by response organisations and government agencies to identify, recruit, network with and train citizens.  In order to accomplish this goal, the partners engaged in an in-depth analysis of citizen awareness programs and volunteer recruitment and training processes in four different countries:  Turkey, Italy, United Kingdom, and Greece.

The report also discusses social activism as a form of citizen involvement in crises (predominantly political crises). Particularly, the section on social activism discusses  how social activist formations use media to recruit members and/or form networks, communicate ideas, and coordinate action.

Finally, regarding the role that citizens can play as reporters/journalists during emergencies and crises, discuss  issues related to news selection processes, types of coverage (commentary vs. news), types of sources used by citizen journalists and citizen journalists’ perceptions regarding issues like reliability of information. In order to do so, the report summarises findings from  a content analysis of the articles published by citizens who reported about four emergencies/crises and online interviews conducted with a sample of citizens whose reports were content analysed.

Click Here for a copy of the report.

Call for Papers: Involving Citizens in Emergency Preparedness and Response

Involving Citizens in Emergency Preparedness and Response

International Conference
Location: Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Istanbul
Date: September 4, 2014; Thursday

New communication technologies play an increasingly important role during emergencies and crises, such as natural and man made disasters and political crises. Particularly social media can potentially enable citizens to more quickly share information, assist response and recovery in emergencies, and mobilize for action in political crises.

This conference will examine the role of citizens as first responders, social activists, and citizen journalists at times of emergencies and crises and will focus on practical, theoretical, and ethical issues related to citizen participation in emergency/crisis response/communication. The conference will result in a set of guidelines for citizens, government authorities, first responders and industry for the most effective use of ICTs to aid citizen security during crises.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The role that conventional media and social media may play in recruitment and training of emergency response volunteers
  • Community involvement in emergency response planning
  • Social activism, mobilization, and social media
  • Citizen journalism and social media (e.g., reporting processes, threats to citizen journalists involved in coverage of emergencies, information verification)

Selected papers from the conference will be published in the Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture journal (published by Intellect Books).

Submission Information:

  • Full Papers: Submit a 500 word maximum proposal and a short author biography to Mr. Mert Bal hbal13@ku.edu.tr
  • PechaKucha Poster Papers: Submit a 250 word maximum proposal and a short author biography to Mr. Mert Bal hbal13@ku.edu.tr

 Key Dates:

  • Deadline for Submissions: February 14, 2014
  • Announcement of Decisions Regarding the Submissions: March 15, 2014
  • Announcement of the Workshop Programme: May 15, 2014
  • Registration (free): May 15, 2014 – July 15, 2014
  • Submission of Full Paper (format to be announced later): August 15, 2014

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Fulltext of New Article on Privacy Protection in Mobile Environments

A new article entitled “Captive But Mobile: Privacy Concerns and Remedies for the Mobile Environment” is now published in The Information Society 

Authors: Mihaela Popescu (California State University, San Bernardino) and Lemi Baruh (Koç University, Istanbul)

Abstract
We use the legal framework of captive audience to examine the Federal Trade Commission’s 2012 privacy guidelines as applied to mobile marketing. We define captive audiences as audiences without functional opt-out mechanisms to avoid situations of coercive communication. By analyzing the current mobile marketing ecosystem, we show that the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy guidelines inspired by the Canadian “privacy by design” paradigm fall short of protecting consumers against invasive mobile marketing in at least three respects: (a) the guidelines overlook how, in the context of data monopolies, the combination of location and personal history data threatens autonomy of choice; (b) the guidelines focus exclusively on user control over data sharing, while ignoring control over communicative interaction; (c) the reliance on market mechanisms to produce improved privacy policies may actually increase opt-out costs for consumers. We conclude by discussing two concrete proposals for improvement: a “home mode” for mobile privacy and target-specific privacy contract negotiation.
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What Your Communication Metadata Says About You?

A few weeks ago, when information about the National Security Agency’s (U.S.) phone surveillance program surfaced, the U.S. President Obama was quick to announce that “nobody is listening to your telephone calls”. It was rather a little “harmless” system that collected metadata about individuals’ phone calls.

We have been hearing similar claims about electronic surveillance systems lately. For example, the “don’t be evil” company Google attempts to comfort us that their e-mail surveillance system is not creepy by saying that:

Ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read your email or Google Account information in order to show you advertisements or related information.

So no peeping tom is reading your e-mails, Google says. And that should be enough to comfort you about the privacy of your e-mails. Or is it?

The problem is, often, metadata says more about an individual than once can ever imagine. As EFF has recently put it, it may even say more about a person than the actual content of a phone call (or an e-mail):

Sorry, your phone records—oops, “so-called metadata”—can reveal a lot more about the content of your calls than the government is implying. Metadata provides enough context to know some of the most intimate details of your lives.  And the government has given no assurances that this data will never be correlated with other easily obtained data. They may start out with just a phone number, but a reverse telephone directory is not hard to find. Given the public positions the government has taken on location information, it would be no surprise if they include location information demands in Section 215 orders for metadata.

However, as I said, it may often be very difficult to imagine what your communication metadata says about you. And the good folks at MIT come to the rescue. They created a very simple visualization tool that demonstrates how companies or the government can make inferences about your relationships based on your contacts in e-mail. The tool is called Immersion.

You can link your Gmail accounts to MIT’s “Immersion” tool here and see what comes up.

Mine is below (contacts anonymized, of course)

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Privacy, Literacy, and Awareness Paradox in Big Data Ecosystems

The abstract and a copy of the presentation that we (Mihaela Popescu & Lemi Baruh) made in IAMCR conference in Dublin are available below. The paper introduces the concept of “awareness paradox” to discuss privacy literacy in an era of Big Data analytics. Thanks to all listeners for their responses and questions. The full paper is still a work in progress.

Title: Digital Literacy & Privacy Self-governance: A Value-based Approach to Privacy in Big Data Ecosystems

Abstract: The growth of interactive and mobile technologies, which equip institutions with vast capabilities to amass an unprecedented amount of information about individuals, has enabled the development of new business models. These business models rely on data-mining techniques and real-time or near real-time Big Data analytics designed to uncover hidden patterns and relations. Increasingly, the use of personal information, including behavioral and locational data, for large-scale data mining is becoming a normative capital-generating practice.

This new regime of data intensive surveillance is akin to a fishing expedition that starts by comparing each data-point to the population base, while potentially signaling any deviation as a potential risk to avoid or an opportunity to capitalize on. More importantly, by relying on algorithmic analysis of data, this regime of surveillance removes humans from the interpretation process, makes the process increasingly opaque, and adds an aura of objectivity that preempts challenges to the epistemological foundations of its inferences. At the same time, as policies for digital media use shift toward promoting self-management, they increasingly assume an ideal “omni-competent” user who is at once able to “benefit” from being open to information sharing and communication availability, weigh these benefits against the potential risks in the digital environment, and engage in risk-aversive behaviors. This assumption is distinctly at odds with the reality of individuals’ understanding of privacy risks. The ubiquitous and technically specialized nature of modern data collection makes it increasingly difficult for online and mobile users to understand which entities are collecting data about them and how. Moreover, studies show that less than a third of online users read, however partially, a website’s privacy policy (McDonald et al. 2009), with only about 2% likely to read it thoroughly (Turow et al. 2007). Ironically, as the work of the Ponemon Institute in the United States demonstrates, absent legislation to the contrary, Big Data also means that companies are able to identify privacy-centric customers and treat them differently in order to allay their concerns, rather than providing privacy-conscious policies for all customers (Urbanski, 2013).

This paper positions the discussion of privacy self-governance in the context of normative digital literacy skills. The paper seeks to unpack and question the nature of these apparently conflicting digital literacy competencies as they relate to current privacy policies in the United States, policies which emphasize individual responsibility, choice, and informed consent by educated consumers. Taking as the point of departure an exploration of what it means to be aware of privacy risks, the paper analyzes recent policy documents issued by governmental agencies as well as commercial discourse in marketing trade journals, in order to examine how state and market-based entities frame both the meaning of user privacy risk awareness and the meaning of voluntary opt-in into data collection regimes. Next, by referencing data collection and data mining practices in Big Data ecosystems, the paper discusses to what extent these differential framings translate into a coherent set of principles that position privacy education among the “new” literacies said to enhance individual participation in the digital economy. Given the “take it or leave it” approach adopted by corporations that engage in data collection and use, the paper questions the potential of digital literacy to translate into meaningful actions from users able to prompt a change in data practices that dominate the U.S. market. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of this “awareness paradox”—a concept that describes how more digital literacy about privacy may lead to a higher tendency for some users to withdraw themselves from the market for certain types of online services, which, in turn, my decrease the incentives for the market to cater to their privacy needs.

Click Here for the Presentation

In case it is useful, please cite as: Popescu, M. & Baruh, L. (2013, June). Digital Literacy and Privacy Self-Governance: A Value-Based Approach to Privacy in Big Data Ecosystems. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference, Dublin, Ireland.

Graduate Programs in Design, Technology, and Society

Koç University is now accepting students to the new Design, Technology, and Society (DTS) M.A. and Ph.D. programs. Part of the Graduate School of Social Sciences and Humanities, the DTS aims to provide students with an opportunity to acquire applied, theoretical, and critical understanding of interactive communication, experience design and service design and develop as researchers and/or practitioners.

The program will provide an interdisciplinary training on applied and experimental design, computation, human cognition, emotions, and perceptions, motor systems, informatics, history and philosophy of science, technology, and information.

Koç University CSSH Seminar: Hybridity in Contemporary Media Arts

The Media and Visual Arts Department at Koç University welcomes the Fall 2011 semester with a seminar by Yvonne Spillman:

Hybridity in Contemporary Media Arts

Time: 16:45
Location: Koç University, Rumeli Feneri (Main) Campus SOS Z 27

I will discuss heterogenous forms of interplay in the digital that are considered hybrid because they no longer refer to distinct media but to already mediated elements that characterise our present time of digital media. I will also refer to approachs in media studies and in cultural studies where they agree that artists are the promotors of radical and critical hybridity as much as they reflect culural-aesthetic multiplicity and difference and make us aware of the construction of meaning with and through media appearances. Because of the advanced deleopments with novel technologies in Asia, I will put one focus on examples of Japanese media arts that are also circulating within Europe, and will in comparison refer to exampes of critical media arts I from a European perspective that also reflects our highly saturated media enviornments. In this respect questions of connecting real and virtual location and the positioning of cultural context and the effects of effacing borders between fact and fiction are gaining importance. In light of these hybrid fusions, I wish to discuss the role of creative use of new technologies

Professor Yvonne Spielmann
Chair of New Media
University of the West of Scotland
School of Creative Industries
http://www.yvonne-spielmann.com

Professor Yvonne Spielmann (Ph.D. habil.) is Chair of New Media at The University of the West of Scotland, previously Professor of Visual Media at Braunschweig School of Art. She is author of the German language monographs “Eine Pfütze in bezug aufs Mehr. Avantgarde” (1991), “Intermedialität. Das System Peter Greenaway” (1998), and “Video. Das reflexive Medium” (2005). The English edition “Video. The Reflexive Medium” (published with MIT Press, 2008) was awarded the “Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Technics” in 2009. The Japanese edition is forthcoming from Sangen-Sha Press, Tokyo, the Polish edition is forthcoming from Oficyna Naukowa, Warszawa.

The most recent book on “Hybrid Culures” (2010) discusses on hybridity in digital media arts with a focus on Japan (English edition forthcoming with MIT Press, 2012).