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User Behaviour in Personal Data Disclosure

Malheiros, M; (2014) User Behaviour in Personal Data Disclosure. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Organisations see the collection and use of data about their customers, citizens or employees as necessary to enable value-adding activities such as personalised service or targeted advertising. At the same time, the increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness of information systems have removed most economic disincentives for widespread collection of personal data. HCI privacy research has mainly focused on identifying features of information systems or organisational practices that lead to privacy invasions and making recommendations on how to address them. This approach fails to consider that the organisations deploying these systems may have a vested interest in potentially privacy invasive features. This thesis approaches the problem from a utilitarian perspective and posits that organisational data practices construed as unfair or invasive by individuals can lead them to engage in privacy protection behaviours that have a negative impact on the organisation’s data quality. The main limitations of past privacy research include (1) overreliance on self-reported data; (2) difficulty in explaining the dissonance between privacy attitudes and privacy practice; (3) excessive focus on specific contexts and resulting lack of generalisation. This thesis addressed these limitations by proposing a context-neutral model for personal data disclosure behaviour that identifies factors that influence individuals’ perception of data requests from organisations and links those perceptions to actual disclosure decisions. This model synthesises findings from a series of interviews, questionnaires, and experiments on privacy perceptions of (1) loan application forms; (2) serious-games; (3) the UK census of 2011; and (4) targeted advertising, as well as existing research. Results in this thesis show that individuals’ decision to comply or not with data collection efforts of organisations depends largely on the same factors regardless of the context. In particular, a validation field experiment on online disclosure with 320 participants showed that perceptions of unfair data requests or expected use of the data lead to lower response rates and increased falsification of answers. Both these outcomes negatively impact organisations’ data quality and ability to make informed decisions suggesting that more privacy conscious data collection procedures may lead to increased utility for both organisations and individuals.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: User Behaviour in Personal Data Disclosure
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1427369
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