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.

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.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Articles

Chapters

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.
  • Grant winners

    Date Published: 4 September 2008

    Source: 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'