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Perspectives on privacy in the use of online systems

Meredydd Williams and Jason R. C. Nurse


Human-Computer Interaction looks to better understand the relationship between people and computers. Our work considers this relationship in the context of privacy and the privacy expectations users have when using online systems. While many surveys suggest the public care about this subject, users often act in a manner perceived contrary to their claims; a notion termed the ‘Privacy Paradox’. However, research suggests privacy is inherently subjective and contextual, leading us to question: do users actually define ‘private online behaviour’ in the same manner as those who study the topic? Although our exploratory survey found a general intersection between participants’ perceptions and those in existing literature, opinions differed in several key areas. For example, we found users often conceptualise protection in less-technical terms and are prone to conflating privacy and security. We believe that when we expand our analyses to the general public, we will see an even greater disparity between privacy perceptions. Through this research we look to inform the development of systems and privacy-protective tools that users can actually appreciate.

Book Title
30th British Human Computer Interaction Conference (B−HCI)