how are digital technologies affecting (in positive and/or negative ways) users’ privacy?


Privacy, Information Technology, and Digital Media


Jurgensen & Ray (2012)’s article is providing a counter-narrative of both positive and negative ways the digital technologies are affecting users’ privacy. On the one hand, digital technologies enable people to get in touch with a wider world. On the other hand, individual privacy can be hardly protected by digital technologies.

The Internet is a product based on digital technology. Digital will generate data and data will lead to data analysis, data mining, data marketing and the so-called the era of big data (Shin, 2010). People are swimming in the digital world and leaving their marks. Locking an IP (Internet Protocol), which is the mutual contract between networks, it is possible to analyse the search record of the IP for a period of time and description based on the analysis would be nearly the real user (Solove, 2004). People’s trace in the digital world belongs to the category of privacy; however, data marketing is completely built on these traces. Therefore, at the same time when people are enjoying network service which usually is free, they are running the risk of privacy invasion. In summary, in the digital age, the possibility of personal information violation is greatly improved.

There are two boundaries to identify the positive and negative influences of the digital technology on individual privacy. One is that whether people are voluntary to provide personal information and the other is that who the object is that people are voluntarily providing their individual information to (Kapadia et al., 2007). On the one hand, if people are not voluntary to provide their personal information, digital technology is affecting individual privacy negatively (Kapadia et al., 2007). For example, since 2007, Google Map launched the service of Street View (NY Times, 2013). In order to support this characteristic service, Google sent many street collection vehicles and put the real 360 degree photographs on the map (NY Times, 2013). However, when shooting the street photos, there is inevitably some household information being accidently shot (NY Times, 2013). In this case, the street residents are not willing to provide their individual information such as drying underwear. Google has been defined as an invasion of privacy and be condemned by the European countries in 2010 (NY Times, 2013). In 2011, Google has been punished by the French government by a fine of 100,000 euros who considered Google Street seriously violated users’ privacy (NY Times, 2013).


On the other hand, if people’s individual information has been provided to other object, it is also a violation of privacy (Kapadia et al., 2007). Take the credit card application for example, applicant will naturally want to fill out the closely packed tables but they certainly do not want the next door KTV access to this information. If the individual information submitted to the bank has been leaked to the next door KTV, this behaviour belongs to privacy violation.

























Jurgensen, N. & Ray, P. J. (2012) The fan dance: how privacy thrives in an age of hyper-publicity, Scribd, [online] accessed on May 15, 2014,


Kapadia, A., Henderson, T., Fielding, J. J., & Kotz, D. (2007). Virtual walls: Protecting digital privacy in pervasive environments. In Pervasive Computing (pp. 162-179). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.


NY Times (2013) Google Pays Fine over Street View Privacy Breach, [online] accessed on May 15, 2014,


Shin, D. H. (2010). The effects of trust, security and privacy in social networking: A security-based approach to understand the pattern of adoption. Interacting with Computers22(5), 428-438.


Solove, D. J. (2004). The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age (Vol. 1). NYU Press.













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