Information Revolutions Threat To Privacy

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Information Revolutions Threat to Privacy


The conceptualization of privacy as a right in the United States has most decidedly been an evolutionary work in process throughout much of the 20th century. There is some indication, however, that it has been more of a revolutionary process than an orderly evolution. According to Berry and Linoff, (1997), "Now is the era of another industry revolution driven by data running through computers, networks and databases." The literature, including the legal press, academic journals, and the popular press argue that advances in spatial technology have become a major threat to individual privacy. However, little has been offered in the way of empirical evidence to support these arguments. It has also been suggested that the addition of spatiality or location to the complex of information about individuals is creating an exponential growth in the invasive potential of these new technologies. The mandate by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in 1996 that required cell phone manufactures to equip their units with location technology has given momentum to the industry to develop ways to market this technology. New marketing efforts and further development in functionality have been in part an effort to recover costs and in part to exploit new avenues for continued growth. Even more remarkable, than this slow but consistent restructuring of a belief system surrounding issues of personal privacy, with its social and moral implications, ethical concerns and legal conundrums, is the revolutionary impact on privacy that advances in spatial technology and the commodification of personal spatial information have affected.

Information Revolutions Threat to Privacy


The proliferation of geo-spatial (or spatially-aware) technology is leading to a severe uneasiness and a decided imbalance between the consumers of technology and consumers of information that is being generated with this new technology. Even though much of what has been proposed in the realm of direct invasion of privacy may seem to be untenable to the uninitiated, there seems to be little doubt that the technologies with spatial capacity will continue to escalate the perception of real and eminent threats for location privacy issues. Growth in the social, political and economic importance of the spatially-aware systems and the commodification of the products of these systems beg that the new generations of pervasive technologies must not only meet the many technical challenges but must also meet the social concerns.

As indicated, policy-makers, academics, and technology architects are grappling with these issues. Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has identified location privacy as an important issue precisely because of the lack of available materials detailing approaches to the problem (White, 2003). In order to devise appropriate and effective privacy policies for these environments it is vital that we accurately identify the consumers' perceptions of privacy... explicitly with location based or geo-technologies (Adams, 1999). These results will provide empirical data that should deepen the understanding of all interested parties (e.g. producers, consumers and policy makers).

Background of the Study

The objective of this research is to investigate the penumbral issues surrounding spatial technology and to ...
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