Project description

Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US

The development of mobile and interconnected technologies has in many ways positively affected the efficiency, convenience, and enjoyment of people’s everyday lives. At the same time, however, mobile technologies create global privacy and surveillance challenges. The way users, organisations, and governments approach these challenges varies based on cultural norms around privacy. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Maryland and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, this project evaluates how mobile users in the Netherlands and the U.S. consider and make decisions about their privacy and personal data. The project's primary goal is to inform ways of thinking about privacy in the digital age, with an emphasis on tensions between personal information, disclosure, mobility and surveillance. Furthermore, this study highlights important implications for policy decisions regarding privacy.

The first phase of the project develops an understanding of privacy awareness and practices across three mobile technologies: health and fitness tracking apps and wearables (e.g., Fitbit), mobile messaging apps (e.g., WhatsApp), and intelligent digital personal assistants (e.g., Siri). Building on these findings, phase 2 involves the development and implementation of a cross-cultural survey featuring a series of ‘privacy vignettes’ (scenarios). This will serve to evaluate the nuances in privacy concerns across individual and cultural characteristics. The project’s final phase focuses on the dissemination of findings to key stakeholders and policymakers, and on building an international working group of researchers. This cross-cultural project expands the understanding of the contextual nature of mobile privacy, while also providing practical implications for a Privacy by Design framework.