April 19 2016
smartphon

Smartphone Users Are Redefining Privacy in Public Spaces

TAU study highlights how smartphone technology is leading to diminished privacy

Private v. public, virtual v. real have converged in a world saturated by information technology. It seems impossible to divide the public from the personal. But when and where do we choose to share information about ourselves? How do we perceive public space and virtual space? And how do these perceptions influence our practices of seeing and being seen?

A Tel Aviv University study recently published inUrban Studies argues that “dynamic visibility,” in which technological surveillance is combined with personal information volunteered by individuals online, has led to diminished overall privacy. “Technology is not only used top-down but also bottom-up, with individuals using their own technological devices to share and enhance their visibility in space,” said Dr. Tali Hatuka, Head of the Laboratory for Contemporary Urban Design at TAU’s Department of Geography and Human Environment.

“Whenever we use ‘location-aware’ devices, or tap on Waze or dating apps, like Tinder, or check-in on Facebook, we are really diminishing our own privacy,” Dr. Hatuka said.

“This combination of secret surveillance and voluntary sharing contributes to a sense of ‘being exposed’ in a public space that normalizes practices of sharing personal data by individuals,” Dr. Hatuka continued. “The result is diminished overall privacy.”

Dr. Hatuka co-authored the study with Dr. Eran Toch, co-director of the Interacting with Technology Lab of the Department of Industrial Engineering at TAU’s Faculty of Engineering

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