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Roger Clarke's 'Digital Spaces'

From Computing Technologies to Digital Spaces:
How Legal Definitions Apply

Preliminary Sketch of 22 October 2016

An intended Chapter for Koops B.-J. (ed.) 'Homes and Computers: The Privacy Expectations in Physical and Digital Spaces'

Roger Clarke and Bert-Jaap Koops **

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This Chapter identifies the original and continually changing conceptions of 'computers' and the forms of privacy intrusiveness that they have given rise to. Its purpose is to establish a foundation for the examination of two key questions: (1) What are the reasonable expectations of privacy in digital spaces? (2) What boundary-markers are available whereby legal protections for privacy can be established, whose breach requires legal authorisation?

The Chapter commences with a brief review of the components, architecture and functions of computers. Key developments are traced, including marriage with communications, resulting in electronic messaging, in distributed computing, and in remote data storage, recently commoditised and 'in the cloud'; and marriage with effectors resulting in robotics.

Generations of device-types are then reviewed, from large organisational installations, via desktops and laptops, to mobiles / handhelds / smartphones / tablets / appliances, and on to 'eObjects' and computers closely associated with, and embedded in, people. It is shown how this sequence has featured the transfer of control over devices and their behaviour from users to suppliers, with concomitant function-creep to suppliers' associates and to third parties.

These technological innovations have given rise to the generic notion of cyberspace as 'shared hallucination' and more specific notions of individual and shared digital spaces. If private physical space is defined by walls and doors and fences and gates, what boundary-markers might be used to delimit private digital space?

... privacy as interest in personal space

... dimensions of personal space

... physical - person, family, 'home'

... virtual / cyberspace in the genric / private virtual space in the specific

... public/private-shared/private-unshared

... technological challenges to anonymity within the crowd, secrecy, privateness, solitude

[[ The Chapter concludes with an examination of legal definitions, to see which devices [and their behaviours?] are or are not covered by national legislations ]]

[[The target is 5000 words, plus 3000 words for the legal definitions section]]


Clarke R. (1994) 'The Digital Persona and Its Application to Data Surveillance' The Information Society 10,2 (June 1994), at

Clarke R. (1994) 'Information Technology: Weapon of Authoritarianism or Tool of Democracy?' Proc. IFIP World Congress, Hamburg, September 1994, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1995) 'Information Technology & Cyberspace: Their Impact on Rights and Liberties' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, September 1995, at

Clarke R. (1996) 'Virtual Chewing Gum on Virtual Library Seats? Human Behaviour in Electronic Communities' Proc. Victorian Automated Library Association (VALA), Melbourne, 31 January 1996, at

Clarke R. (1996) ' Cyberculture: Towards the Analysis That Internet Participants Need' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, December 1996, at

Clarke R. (1997) 'Encouraging Cyberculture' Proc. CAUSE in Australasia '97, Melbourne, 13-16 April, 1997, at

Clarke R. (1997) 'Introduction to Dataveillance and Information Privacy, and Definitions of Terms' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, August 1997, at, esp. Definition of Privacy as 'interest in personal space'

Clarke R. (1998) 'Information Privacy On the Internet: Cyberspace Invades Personal Space' Telecommunication Journal of Australia 48, 2 (May/June 1998), PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1998) 'Net-Ethiquette: Mini Case Studies of Dysfunctional Human Behaviour on the Net' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, September 1998, at

Clarke R. (2004) 'Origins and Nature of the Internet in Australia' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, January 2004, esp.:

Clarke R. & Maurushat A. (2007) 'The Feasibility of Consumer Device Security' J. of Law, Information and Science 18 (2007), which appeared in June 2009, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2008) 'A Retrospective on the Information Systems Discipline in Australia' Chapter 2 of Gable G.G. et al. (2008) 'The Information Systems Discipline in Australia' ANU e-Press, 2008, pp. 47-107, esp. s.2 Origins and Nature of the I.S. Discipline

Clarke R. (2009) 'The Privacy Attitudes of the iGeneration' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, November 2009, at

Clarke R. (2010) 'Re-Conceptualising Malware/ Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, February 2010, at

Clarke R. (2012) 'Infrastructure for Electronic Interaction: The State of Play in 1987' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, August 2012, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2013) 'Morning Dew on the Web in Australia: 1992-95' Journal of Information Technology 28,2 (June 2013) 93-110 , esp. ss.3-4 Precursors to the Web, and The Web

Clarke R. (2014) ''Promise Unfulfilled: The Digital Persona Concept, Two Decades Later' Information Technology & People 27, 2 (Jun 2014) 182 - 207, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2015) 'The Internet That We Want(ed)?' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, March 2015, at

Clarke R. (2015) 'The Prospects of Easier Security for SMEs and Consumers' Computer Law & Security Review 31, 4 (August 2015) 538-552, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2016) 'A Framework for Analysing Technology's Negative and Positive Impacts on Freedom and Privacy' Datenschutz und Datensicherheit 40, 1 (January 2016) 79-83, PrePrint at, esp. s.3 Technology's Negative Impacts

Manwaring K. & Clarke R. (2015) 'Surfing the third wave of computing: a framework for research into eObjects' Computer Law & Security Review 31,5 (October 2015) 586-603, PrePrint at

Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in Cyberspace Law & Policy at the University of N.S.W., and a Visiting Professor in the Computer Science at the Australian National University.

Bert-Jaap Koops is a Full Professor at the University of Tilburg Law School, in the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT). During 2016-17, he is Distinguished Lorentz Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Science (NIAS) and Lorentz Center.

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Created: 9 October 2016 - Last Amended: 22 October 2016 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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