Advancing information privacy concerns evaluation in personal data intensive services

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Martti Ahtisaari auditorium (L2)

Topic of the dissertation

Advancing information privacy concerns evaluation in personal data intensive services

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science in Technology Anna Rohunen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Empirical Software Engineering in Software, Systems and Services (M3S)

Subject of study

Information Processing Science

Opponent

Professor Virpi Tuunainen, Aalto University School of Business

Custos

Docent Jouni Markkula, University of Oulu

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Information privacy concerns evaluation needs to be advanced in new personal data intensive services

Information privacy concerns evaluation methods can be used for the design and the development of the privacy protection solutions in personal data intensive services. This study investigated the applicability of the existing information privacy concerns evaluation methods to new personal data collection contexts. Through the research, an explicit need for advancing privacy concerns evaluation was recognised. The results of the study present how evaluation should be conducted in evolving personal data collection contexts.

In the current digital services, users' personal data can be collected and utilised in various ways. This information can be used, for example, for electronic commerce services and intelligent traffic or wellness applications. The rapid technological progress and the new ways to collect and process personal data also bring out questions about users' privacy protection and potential privacy risks. Possibilities of personal data breaches may make service users worried about their privacy. As a result, information privacy concerns may decrease users’ willingness to disclose their personal data for the services and, in this way, hinder service adoption or even lead to dropping out of them. In that case, companies may not obtain full financial gain from their service production. Correspondingly, the optimal societal efficiency may not be reached if the technological resources cannot be utilised at their full capacity.

Users’ information privacy concerns need to be understood in the design and the development of personal data intensive services. With this type of understanding data processing can be carried out taking into account the users' privacy needs. Information privacy concerns can be evaluated with methods that have been developed for this purpose. The evaluation can be conducted, for example, through a survey research. This study aimed to explore how the existing evaluation methods should be applied in new personal data intensive services. At first, intelligent traffic service users’ views to information privacy were investigated through an interview and survey research. A literature review was then conducted on privacy behaviour models, as well as a review of the EU’s privacy legislation changes. The results of these reviews complemented the empirical results of the study, providing an extensive view on the possibilities to develop privacy concerns evaluation in evolving personal data collection contexts.

The results of this study show that information privacy concerns evaluation needs to be adapted to new personal data collection contexts. In these contexts, privacy concerns differ from the earlier ones specifically due to the complex service ecosystems of today and the users’ limited awareness of the underlying systems. For example, possibilities to combine data from different sources for various purposes may result in new types of privacy concerns. In the evaluation, attention should also be paid to the fact that the users may ponder privacy issues although they are not necessarily personally worried about their privacy protection. This may be the case, for example, when news on personal data intensive services are reported. One challenge in the development of privacy concerns evaluation is that the current information privacy research is incoherent by nature. In addition to the need for the development of privacy concerns evaluation, the results of this study show that more overarching research is called for to facilitate the application of the existing knowledge.
Last updated: 4.12.2019