Ethics and Information Technology 14 (4):267-284 (2012)

Within a given conversation or information exchange, do privacy expectations change based on the technology used? Firms regularly require users, customers, and employees to shift existing relationships onto new information technology, yet little is known as about how technology impacts established privacy expectations and norms. Coworkers are asked to use new information technology, users of gmail are asked to use GoogleBuzz, patients and doctors are asked to record health records online, etc. Understanding how privacy expectations change, if at all, and the mechanisms by which such a variance is produced will help organizations make such transitions. This paper examines whether and how privacy expectations change based on the technological platform of an information exchange. The results suggest that privacy expectations are significantly distinct when the information exchange is located on a novel technology as compared to a more established technology. Furthermore, this difference is best explained when modeled by a shift in privacy expectations rather than fully technology-specific privacy norms. These results suggest that privacy expectations online are connected to privacy offline with a different base privacy expectation. Surprisingly, out of the five locations tested, respondents consistently assign information on email the greatest privacy protection. In addition, while undergraduate students differ from non-undergraduates when assessing a social networking site, no difference is found when judging an exchange on email. In sum, the findings suggest that novel technology may introduce temporary conceptual muddles rather than permanent privacy vacuums. The results reported here challenge conventional views about how privacy expectations differ online versus offline. Traditionally, management scholarship examines privacy online or with a specific new technology platform in isolation and without reference to the same information exchange offline. However, in the present study, individuals appear to have a shift in their privacy expectations but retain similar factors and their relative importance—the privacy equation by which they form judgments—across technologies. These findings suggest that privacy scholarship should make use of existing privacy norms within contexts when analyzing and studying privacy in a new technological platform
Keywords Contextual integrity  Privacy  Business ethics  Information technology  Email  Facebook
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DOI 10.1007/s10676-012-9300-3
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References found in this work BETA

What is Computer Ethics?James H. Moor - 1985 - Metaphilosophy 16 (4):266-275.
Towards a Theory of Privacy in the Information Age.James H. Moor - 1997 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 27 (3):27-32.
Four Challenges for a Theory of Informational Privacy.Luciano Floridi - 2006 - Ethics and Information Technology 8 (3):109-119.
Information Ethics, its Nature and Scope.Luciano Floridi - 2006 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 36 (2):21-36.
Contextual Gaps: Privacy Issues on Facebook.Gordon Hull, Heather Richter Lipford & Celine Latulipe - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (4):289-302.

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