Who Gets to Know What When: Configuring Privacy Permissions in an Awareness Application

We report on a study (N=36) of user preferences for managing the trade-off between awareness and privacy. Participants defined permissions for the sharing of their location, availability, calendar information and instant messaging data. The context for the study was an application called mySpace, an interactive visualization of the physical workplace that provides dynamically updated information about people, places and equipment within the workplace. Findings indicate an overwhelming preference towards managing privacy by defining permissions at the group level. While family members receive among the highest levels of disclosure, interestingly, team members are granted similar levels of trust while at work during business hours. Contrary to expectations, we found that presenting participants with a detailed list of all the personal information that the system has access to did not cause participants to define more conservative awareness settings. While location proved to be the most sensitive aspect of the awareness data, participants showed high levels of comfort with disclosing room-level information at work with their team members.

By: Sameer Patil, Jennifer C. Lai

Published in: RC23360 in 2004


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