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PRESS RELEASE -
OII to lead £2m project researching what privacy means to people and organisations

Published on
6 Aug 2008
Written by
Professor Ian Brown
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

The Oxford Internet Institute is to lead a major new research project investigating the way the public thinks about privacy and how organisations can model the costs and benefits of processing personal information. The £2m Privacy Value Networks project is one of three awarded funding under the Technology Strategy Board’s ‘Ensuring Privacy and Consent’ research programme, and also includes Bath University, St Andrews University, University College London and Consult Hyperion.

The project will look at privacy in a range of contexts. These include creating a sensor-enhanced Facebook to help understand how students might share or restrict automatically-gathered information such as their location, current companions and activity. Similarly, researchers will investigate how families share this type of information using a new mobile phone application, and how it might be used to improve the lives of children and the elderly while protecting their privacy and autonomy.

The project will look at the government’s own use of sensitive personal information in the Identity and Passport Service, and how it is interpreted by staff and passport applicants. It will also work with financial institutions to design privacy-friendly services that reduce the financial exclusion of those with limited or damaged credit histories.

Dr Ian Brown, principal investigator on the project, said: “Privacy has become a major issue in the UK, with worries about the development of a surveillance society. We are delighted to have this opportunity to carry out research that will ensure businesses and government agencies fully understand privacy concerns, and can provide effective and efficient services that properly deal with them.”