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Networked practitioner: open or closed practice?
Networked practitioner: open or closed practice?

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3 Being a networked practitioner: privacy, identity and data ownership

Networked and open practice requires a degree of trust between participants. This section gives you an overview of the issues and factors affecting decisions about trust and control options. It should offer you some food for thought about privacy, drawing on research into this issue.

Privacy has often been suggested as a basic human requirement. The US Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a more fundamental right than any of those stated in the Bill of Rights (Schoeman, 1992). Over the past 30 years there has been a steady increase in the opinion that computerisation has decreased an individual’s privacy (Kumaraguru and Faith Cranor, 2005). At the same time internet sharing of personal information has dramatically increased.

Legislative developments have not cleared up this complexity, but simply reduced it to concepts of ownership. The debate over who owns data has often overshadowed the debate about data usage and what makes it sensitive. Some argue that all data can be sensitive, depending on the context of use, but legislation about data management has often simplistically divided data into two broad types:

  1. Inherently sensitive data (personal information): for example, racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, data concerning health or sex life
  2. Relatively innocuous data: for example, consumption habits or household management.