3.4 How does this translate to open sharing and online issues of privacy and identity?
Issues of privacy are often countered by arguments for an increase in the freedom of information. Freedom of information was the main driver behind the open access movement. At the extreme end, advocates argued that new technological drives are irrepressible, and privacy safeguards futile. Privacy, it was maintained, can only be secured by concentrating on increasing the freedom of information for everyone and everything. In short, making everything public destroys the problems associated with secrecy.
However, the open access movement has grown to acknowledge some important limits in the complete freedom to access all information. Some national, organisational and personal information does require secrecy to maintain economic advantage and personal freedom of expression free from social scrutiny. Ultimately, open access and online sharing relies on an understanding and respect for what is acceptable to others (netiquette).
Houghton and Joinson (2010) identify the importance of co-owned information and boundaries within which sharing occurs. However, they highlight the difficulty of managing these boundaries and the need for users to be aware of the difficulties. To be aware of difficulties relates strongly to being aware of social norms of behaviour (the netiquette for specific situations online). Schoeman (1992) refers to these as ‘privacy norms’.
In the light of the open access movement, this analysis would suggest that acceptable open sharing can be maintained as long as all parties are aware of the social norms online (netiquette) guiding our sharing behaviours before we share information.
According to the ‘Adams (2001) sharing model’ behaviours can be broken down into three guidance points. Acceptable open sharing is achieved through maintaining accurate awareness of:
- who we believe we are sharing the information with (information receiver)
- how the information is going to be used, edited, re-used, and in what context (information usage)
- how do those sharing the information feel about information sensitivity – attitudes in particular situations may vary depending on 1) who the information receiver is and 2) how the information is likely to be used.
- Think of two or three scenarios that you would consider acts of privacy invasion or risks of this occurring (focus on personal information). These may be examples from personal experience, friends or ones which you have heard about in the news.
- Consider if changing the context changes your perception? For example, if you are paying for a service (e.g. as a registered student) do you expect more than if you obtain that service for free (e.g. as an OER or MOOC user)?
Use the box below to record your thoughts.