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Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age
tions against the publication of untrue information, it is difficult to claim invasion of privacy when the information is truthful (as discussed in Section 4.2).
For many people, privacy from the media is important. Of concern to them is the surprise factor, that unbeknownst to individuals, and without their permission, they are suddenly in the public view more than they had realized would be possible. As a point of departure, consider the issue of privacy as it relates to the media collecting personal information about individuals. Using the anchoring vignette approach, a possible survey question might be, How much privacy [do you/does “Name”] have from themedia? Here are a number of possible vignettes:
[Claudio] just got divorced from his spouse. He calls his close friends to tell them and they keep this confidential.
[Pamela] just got divorced from her spouse. The local newspaper publishes a list of all civil divorce filings, including [Pamela’s], in its back section.
[Mary] just got divorced from her spouse. Her college alumni magazine publishes an article about her divorce, speculating what the disagreement was about.
[Christopher] just got divorced from his spouse. Without his permission, CNN runs a feature story on divorce in America, which includes interviews with his ex-spouse and friends about his divorce.
The range here is quite clear, and the diverse interested parties involved will often have different preferences about where on this scale the media should be allowed to go. Developing consensus positions is especially difficult when views change as they affect individuals. This will be all the more so as marketing continues to become more focused, and as the need for personal information about the audience for a particular form of mass media becomes ever more important and the risk of exposing individual information in a way that is unexpected thus increases.
Information about the number of people who might be reached through a particular program or publication is no longer sufficient to attract advertisers. Instead, the advertisers want to see that the “right” kind of people for their product will be attracted by the content. Advertisers attracted to the Web site www.Collegehumor.com are very different from those that advertise on network telecasts of a golf tournament. As the amount of information about a viewer becomes more sophisticated and more personalized, advertising can be more targeted. Internet sites that sell advertising, for example, can now determine which advertisement to show based on the viewing and browsing habits of the individual visiting the site.
Another dimension of personal privacy has emerged as the result of