Privacy Value Networks (PVNets)

Privacy Value Networks (PVNets) is producing an empirical base for developing concepts of privacy across contexts and timeframes, addressing a current lack of clarity of what privacy is and what it means to stakeholders in different usage scenarios.

Contact:

Dr Ian Brown

Tel: +44 (0)1865 287213

Email: enquiries@oii.ox.ac.uk

Overview

Privacy Value Networks (PVNets) is a major three-year research project that will produce a strong empirical base for developing concepts of privacy across contexts and timeframes. Despite many studies there is still a lack of clarity of what privacy is and what it means to different stakeholders in different scenarios of use. The cost and benefit of collecting and storing data about individuals has not been properly examined, and the value of holding information about individuals for specific purposes is not understood. This project aims to develop and apply new methodologies for the study of privacy and to help government and business to understand the value of personal data, as well as the value and risks for other stakeholders.

Background

Identity and privacy have recently rarely been out of the headlines. Government has justified the need to identify citizens and track behaviour or security reasons, and promoted data sharing with the promise of the benefits of transformational government. Business argues that it needs to track customer behaviour both in the real world and the Internet to deliver personalised services that offer more targeted information and identify new business opportunities. The public is generally portrayed as unconcerned about privacy: based on opinion poll data, government argues that the majority of citizens support identification and surveillance, and commercial companies argue that customers are happy to volunteer detailed information about themselves in return for discounts or entry in a prize draw. In a recent report, the UK Information Commissioner characterised the situation as Sleepwalking into a Surveillance Society.

Do citizens and customers really not care? Previous research has shown that in many situations, people opt for immediate benefits (or promises thereof), and are less concerned about future possible risks (or not aware of them). However, once people experience negative consequences, or discover risks they were unaware of, they tend to respond strongly - often abandoning services and technologies involved altogether.

Examples of data sharing and leakage have raised awareness how data can be used and abused. Increasingly, people try to defend against the collection of sensitive or inappropriate data by refusing to register, or giving false information. Such responses can cause significant economic damage, or - in case of large numbers opting out or providing "fake" information - lead to a collection of data that has little or no value. The cost and benefit of collecting and storing data about individuals has not been properly examined, and the value of holding information about individuals for specific purposes is not understood.

The Privacy Value Networks (PVNets) project will help government and business to understand the value of personal data, as well as the value and risks for other stakeholders. The Home Office estimates that identity theft costs the UK 1.7bn each year, but without a proper cost-benefit analysis, it is impossible for data collectors to understand how, or indeed whether, to reduce the amount of data that they collect.

Research into privacy has both benefitted and suffered from its multidisciplinary nature. The multitude of perspectives and methods has led to many detailed findings, but there is still a lack of clarity of what privacy is and what it means to different stakeholders in different contexts/scenarios of use. There has been no attempt to measure the cost and benefits to the stakeholders involved in comparable units. Most studies are one-off surveys, 'feeling the temperature' to general questions about privacy. There has been no study of how stakeholders' perception evolves over time, in response to experiences of benefits and drawback of data held about them. There is a lack of quality, empirical data on these issues, and how to collect it. The problem of collecting reliable data on people’s perceptions surrounding sensitive data about them is akin to Schrodinger's Cat - to discuss privacy, you have to reveal things you want to keep private. The goal of the Privacy Value Networks project is to develop new methodologies that enable us to break this paradox.

Partners

PVnets is a collaboration between the Oxford Internet Institute, the University of Bath, UCL, St Andrew's University, BT, and Consult Hyperion.

People

Project Lead

  • Dr Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute (Principal Investigator)

Researchers

Publications

Articles

Chapters

  • Joinson, A.N., Houghton, D.J., Vasalou, A. and Marder, B. (2011) Digital Crowding: Privacy, self‐disclosure and technology. In: L.Reinecke and S.Trepte (Eds) Privacy Online. Springer.
  • Mazanderani, F. and I. Brown (2010) Privacy as a practice: exploring the relational and spatial dynamics of HIV-related information seeking. In: S.Gutwirth, Y.Poullet, P.De Hert and R.Leene (eds) Computers, Privacy and Data Protection: An Element of Choice. Springer, pp. 251-268. ISBN: 9789400706408.

Conference papers

  • Ben Abdesslem, F. and Henderson, T. (2010) Understanding mobile social behaviour using smartphones. Proceedings of the First Workshop on Observing the Mobile User Experience, October 2010, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • Ben Abdesslem, F., Parris, I. and Henderson, T. (2010) Mobile Experience Sampling: Reaching the Parts of Facebook Other Methods Cannot Reach. Paper for the Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) workshop, British HCI 2010 conference, 6 September 2010, Dundee.
  • Ben Abdesslem, F., Phillips, A. and Henderson, T. (2009) Less is More: Energy-Efficient Mobile Sensing with SenseLess. Proceedings of the 1st ACM Workshop on Networking, Systems, and Applications For Mobile Handhelds: MobiHeld '09, 17 August 2009, Barcelona, Spain. ACM, New York, NY, pp. 61-62.
  • Gill, A., Vasalou, A., Papoutsi, C. and Joinson, A. (2011) Privacy dictionary: A linguistic taxonomy of privacy for content analysis. Proceedings of CHI, ACM Press.
  • Henderson, T. (2010) Usable data-driven privacy research: should we be afraid of the big (bad?) data wolf? Proceedings of EuroSOUPS 2010, November 2010, Newcastle, UK.
  • Henderson, T. and Ben Abdesslem, F. (2009) Scaling measurement experiments to planet-scale: ethical, regulatory and cultural considerations. Proceedings of the First ACM International Workshop on Hot Topics of Planet-scale Mobility Measurements (HotPlanet), June 2009, Krakow, Poland. DOI: 10.1145/1651428.1651436.
  • Jennett, C., Brostoff, S., Malheiros, M. and Sasse, A. (2010) Investigating Loan Applicant's Perceptions of Alternative Data Items and the Effect of Incentives on Disclosure. Paper for the Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) workshop, British HCI 2010 conference, 6 September 2010, Dundee.
  • Mazanderani, F. (2010) Dating with HIV: the internet as moral mediator. BSA Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference, September 2010, Durham.
  • Mazanderani, F. (2010) Keeping bodies apart: the spatial (re)framing of not knowing. Society for the Social Studies of Science Annual Conference, August 2010, Tokyo.
  • Mazanderani, F. and Brown, I. (2010) Making things private: exploring the relational dynamics of privacy. Paper presented at the 3rd  International Conference on Computers, Privacy and Data Protection, 29-30 January 2010 Brussels, Belgium.
  • Oostveen, A. (2011) The Internet as an Empowering Technology for Stigmatized Groups: A Case Study of Weight Loss Bloggers. Paper for the 25th BCS Conference on 'Health, Wealth & Happiness'. Human Computer Interaction (HCI2011), 4-8 July 2011, Newcastle.
  • Papoutsi, C. and Brown, I. (2010) Technological Information Privacy Challenges in Healthcare. Poster presented at the IADIS International Conference e-Society 2010, 18-21 March 2010, Porto, Portugal.
  • Papoutsi, C., Mazanderani, F. and Brown, I. (2010) Researching Privacy in HIV Care: An Ethnographic Analysis of Methods. Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) Workshop, British HCI 2010 Conference.
  • Parris, I. and Henderson, T. (2011) Practical privacy-aware opportunistic networking. Proceedings of the British HCI Doctoral Consortium, July 2011, Newcastle, UK.
  • Parris, I. and Henderson, T. (2011) The impact of location privacy on opportunistic networks. Proceedings of the Fifth IEEE WoWMoM Workshop on Autonomic and Opportunistic Communications (AOC), June 2011, Lucca, Italy. IEEE Computer Society Press.
  • Parris, I., Ben Abdesslem, F. and Henderson, T. (2010) Facebook or Fakebook?: The effect of simulation on location privacy user studies. Paper for the Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) workshop, British HCI 2010 conference, 6 September 2010, Dundee.
  • Parris, I., Bigwood, G. and Henderson, T. (2010) Privacy-enhanced social network routing in opportunistic networks. Paper presented at the 1st IEEE International Workshop on SECurity and SOCial Networking (Sesoc 2010), 29 March 2010, Mannheim, Germany.
  • Rahaman, A. and Sasse, A. (2010) From Rhetoric to Reality: A Human Centred Approach to Identity Management Systems. Paper for the Identity in the Information Society (IDIS'10) Workshop, Rome.
  • Vasalou, A., Gill, A., Mazanderani, F., Papoutsi, C., Oostveen, A. and Brostoff, S. (2010) The prototype of privacy: analyzing privacy discourse through its features. Peer-reviewed paper for the Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) workshop, British HCI 2010 conference, Dundee, 6 September 2010.

Presentations

  • Parris, I. (2010) Privacy-enhanced Opportunistic Networks. Extended abstract presented during the PhD Forum at the 2nd International Workshop on Mobile Opportunistic Networking ACM/SIGMOBILE MobiOpp 2010. 23 February 2010, Pisa, Italy.

News

  • Grant winners

    4 September 2008 Times Higher Education

    Dr Ian Brown wins research funding for Privacy Value Networks (PVNets) Project, which 'will generate a detailed understanding of individuals' and organisations' conceptions of privacy and identity across a range of contexts and time frames'

  • OII to lead £2m project researching what privacy means to people and organisations

    7 August 2008 Oxford Internet Institute

    The Oxford Internet Institute is to lead the major new 'Privacy Value Networks' research project, investigating the way the public thinks about privacy and how organisations can model the costs and benefits of processing personal information

Blog

  • Two workshops

    Privacy Value Networks on 24 Nov 2011 16:32PM

    As PVN draws to a close, we will be having two final workshops to disseminate some our results. Please join us! Anonymity, Privacy, and Open Data Wednesday 7 December 2011 16:00 – 18:00 Location: Church House Conference Centre, Dean’s Yard, [...]

  • Unconference on privacy and financial inclusion

    Privacy Value Networks on 7 Sep 2011 09:06AM

    PVN is organising an ‘unconference’ on 20th September at Birkbeck College in London. This will be an informal event whose theme will be ‘the role of privacy in achieving social inclusion through financial inclusion’. The aim of the day is to foster [...]

  • Best Short Paper Award at British HCI Conference 2011

    Privacy Value Networks on 9 Jul 2011 14:00PM

    My short paper ‘The Internet as an Empowering Technology for Stigmatized Groups: a Case Study of Weight Loss Bloggers’ has won the Best Short Paper Award at the 25th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction HCI 2011. HCI 2011 is the leading conference [...]

  • Papers presented at the Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) Workshop, British HCI Conference 2010

    Privacy Value Networks on 4 Oct 2010 12:54PM

    Members of the Privacy Value Networks project presented papers at the Privacy and Usability Methods (PUMP) Workshop, organised in Dundee, Scotland as part of the British HCI Conference 2010. Here are the two papers I co-authored: The first paper reports [...]

  • Evil! Or, the problems with Facebook’s privacy settings

    Privacy Value Networks on 26 May 2010 10:56AM

    Tom Scott has produced a graphic demonstration of the way Facebook’s complicated, opt-out privacy settings are exposing information that users might prefer remain private — in this case, phone numbers: Thanks GB for the tip!

  • Facebook Privacy Settings

    Privacy Value Networks on 18 May 2010 10:02AM

    After seeing the last two posts about Facebook and their idea of privacy settings, when I came across the following link I thought I should post it here, too. The link came through in one of my Twitter feeds (danah boyd I believe). It is a tool that scans [...]

  • Bye, bye Facebook

    Privacy Value Networks on 14 May 2010 12:44PM

    As mentioned in the previous post by Tristan, Facebook is facing all kinds of trouble at the moment. I’ve just deactivated my account, and will shift it to deleted in a few weeks (once I have the time to scrape off my contacts). As an early adopter [...]

  • Why the change of tune, Facebook?

    Privacy Value Networks on 14 May 2010 09:24AM

    Today is “Kill your Facebook Page” day. Pundits across the blogosphere are loudly criticising the social network giant. What is going on? Last year, Facebook, under pressure from its users, introduced a new set of principles that included all [...]

  • Data-mining the data miners

    Privacy Value Networks on 16 Apr 2010 14:47PM

    Wendy Grossman has written this week’s net.wars about the Privacy Open Space conference we hosted earlier this week in Oxford, with several mentions of Privacy Value Networks: So privacy is hard: to define, to value, to implement. As Seda Gürses, [...]

  • Information Privacy Challenges in Healthcare

    Privacy Value Networks on 4 Apr 2010 22:14PM

    The poster I co-authored with Dr Ian Brown and presented recently at the IADIS e-Society 2010 conference in Portugal, aims at illustrating the background to information privacy risks in healthcare. This research is part of the work undertaken for one of [...]

  • The Privacy Dividend

    Privacy Value Networks on 4 Mar 2010 14:55PM

    Thanks to PB for passing on news of this report released yesterday by the Information Commissioner’s Office: The report analyses the value of personal information from different perspectives and outlines the consequences of privacy failures. It [...]

  • Reforming the Data Protection Directive

    Privacy Value Networks on 22 Feb 2010 12:59PM

    Wills Memorial Building, Bristol University: photo by Drumaboy I’m off to Bristol University this afternoon to speak at a public event organised by the the law school’s centres for IT Law and Human Rights Implementation: The European Union [...]

  • US teens prefer closed updates to open tweets

    Privacy Value Networks on 4 Feb 2010 10:52AM

    Interesting new study from Pew on social media use by US teenagers. Tweeting is down to 8%, with a suggestion that its public nature discourages use over social networking sites.

  • Quantifying people’s trade-offs across liberty, privacy and security

    Privacy Value Networks on 26 Jan 2010 08:47AM

    An interesting new study from RAND Europe: This report outlines the results of a stated preference discrete choice modelling study that sought to objectively understand the real privacy, liberty and security trade-offs of individuals so that policy makers [...]

  • Privacy and power

    Privacy Value Networks on 20 Jan 2010 09:17AM

    “Power is critical in thinking through these issues. The privileged folks don’t have to worry so much about people who hold power over them observing them online. That’s the very definition of privilege. But most everyone else does. And [...]

  • Controlling your digital identity

    Privacy Value Networks on 7 Jan 2010 17:02PM

    I spoke this morning at the British Library at a conference on the Future of Digital Identity. Some very interesting work on design patterns for digital identity, and the World Wide Web Consortium’s development of social networking standards. Here [...]

  • What would you let your phone say about you on Facebook?

    Privacy Value Networks on 17 Dec 2009 20:18PM

    Recently, our work on energy efficient sensing for mobile phones made the finals of the Thales Technology Prize 2009. This work has been achieved to save energy while collecting personal data and privacy concerns for the testbed being deployed in St [...]

  • Gargoyling with Google Goggles

    Privacy Value Networks on 15 Dec 2009 10:24AM

    Google has just saved you from being a “technonerd”, unable to chat with a stranger without being creepy and stalker like.  Google has literally saved your social life.  By banning one of it’s own products.  But why? It all had so much [...]

  • Privacy, social networks and the Internet Governance Forum

    Privacy Value Networks on 1 Dec 2009 09:22AM

    A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to talk privacy at an Internet Governance Forum session on Governance of Social Media. You can now listen to audio of the session. Here are the slides I prepared: Privacy and Social Networks View more presentations [...]

  • Data Sharing or Database State?

    Privacy Value Networks on 21 Oct 2009 09:47AM

    Next week in London the Institute of Ideas will be running its flagship annual conference, Battle of Ideas. I will be speaking on a data sharing panel alongside the “transformational government” data-sharing champion, former chairman of HM [...]