The research project "Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US" has received the PRICE/EAGER grant. The grant has been made possible by the NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Science Research) and the NSF (National Science Foundation).
The project is led by Jason Pridmore and Daniel Trottier, and the team is completed by Anouk Mols. For the project they also collaborated with Jessica Vitak, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, and Michael Zimmer, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
NWO's specific aim with this grant was to fund a project that focuses on the topic of privacy in relation to cyberspace, in which Dutch and American researchers are working together.
A short summary of the project
The development of mobile and interconnected computing has, in many ways, positively affected the efficiency, convenience, and enjoyment of people’s everyday lives. At the same time, however, these connections and devices increase the potential for more pervasive forms of digitally mediated surveillance by media companies, marketers, governments, employers, and ISPs.
This project will evaluate mobile users’ mental models of privacy alongside perceived social costs (e.g., interpersonal and institutional surveillance), affordances (e.g., ubiquitous communication, facilitated social coordination), and (un)anticipated byproducts (e.g., routine upkeep of profiles and configuring settings) associated with the pervasive use of mobile technologies. This will be accomplished through a collaborative, multidisciplinary investigation of three cross-cutting ecosystems of mobile data sharing that highlight both emergent and longstanding privacy challenges associated with data surveillance: (1) health and fitness tracking, (2) mobile messaging, and (3) intelligent personal assistants.
The research starts by developing a preliminary understanding of privacy awareness and practices and will build into the development and implementation of a cross-cultural survey featuring a series of “privacy vignettes.” This will serve to evaluate the nuances in privacy concerns across individual characteristics and allow for a dissemination of findings to key stakeholders and policymakers. The research will assist in creating an international working group of researchers in this space and provide new insights into how people develop mental models of privacy and how mobile technologies are changing how people think about privacy and information disclosure.