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Roger Clarke's 'Easy Privacy for Consumer-Oriented Social Media'

Easy Privacy for Consumer-Oriented Social Media

Abstract of 7 June 2014

For presentation at the 4th Asian Privacy Scholars Network Conference,
Meiji University, Tokyo, 10-11 July 2014

Roger Clarke, Andrew A. Adams and Arash Shaghaghi **

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Most social media services are highly exploitative of consumers' data. Previous research has identified the desirable characteristics of an alternative approach to social media. These include appropriate architecture, avoidance of some technical features and inclusion of others, ease of use, appropriate terms of service and privacy policies, and business models that are less dependent on the exploitation of data about users. The focus of this presentation is on privacy-related aspects of such services.

The notion of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs) has been pursued since the mid-1990s. Yet PETs have achieved remarkably little penetration. A number of consumer-oriented social media have been conceived, some have been implemented, and a few have been deployed. But, like other PETs, thet have achieved very limited adoption. A review of relevant theory identifies the need for drivers for adoption, and for means of overcoming impediments to adoption. Among those factors are several that fall within the 'Easy Privacy' theme of this conference.

The first concern addressed in this paper is the question of usability. The body of literature relating to the usability of security and privacy tools is applied, in order to identify key issues. These include awareness, rapid learnability and intuitiveness, transparency, convenience, consistency, recoverability and easy configurability and feature invocation.

A second aspect is the avoidance of technical functionality that is privacy-abusive and the inclusion of technical features that are privacy-supportive. A paper presented at the Third Asian Privacy Scholars Network conference in 2013 is drawn on to identify key privacy features.

Finally, it is argued that, for many users, consumer-orientation is not sufficiently attractive to cause them to abandon the exploitative services to which they have become accustomed. Rather than trying to make new services attractive to everyone, designers need to identify categories of users who do, or at least rationally should, regard privacy as a significant concern. On the basis of a risk assessment relevant to each such user segment, designs can emerge that are attuned to each segment's particular needs.

Social media designs have not yet delivered 'Easy Privacy'. This presentation applies existing theory to identify key shortfalls, and to suggest approaches that can be used to overcome them.

Prior Work

This paper builds on a series of previous projects in the areas of consumer needs, terms of service, privacy policies, Web 2.0, cloud services particularly SaaS, and social media services.

Clarke R. (2004a) 'Very Black 'Little Black Books'' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, February 2004, at

Clarke R. (2008a) 'B2C Distrust Factors in the Prosumer Era' Proc. CollECTeR Iberoamerica, Madrid, 25-28 June 2008, pp. 1-12, Invited Keynote Paper, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2008b) 'Web 2.0 as Syndication' Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research 3,2 (August 2008) 30-43, at, Preprint at

Clarke R. (2010a) 'An Evaluation of the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of the LinkedIn Professional Networking Service' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, December 2010, at

Clarke R. (2010b) 'Internet Users' Second-Party Exposure' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, December 2010, at

Clarke R. (2011) 'The Cloudy Future of Consumer Computing' Proc. 24th Bled eConference, June 2011, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2013) 'Privacy and Social Media: An Analytical Framework' Forthcoming in Journal of Law, Information and Science 23, 2 (December 2013), PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2014a) 'The Prospects for Consumer-Oriented Social Media' Proc. 27th Bled eConference, June 2014, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2014b) 'Key Factors in the Limited Adoption of End-User PETs' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, April 2014, at

Clarke R. (2014c) 'How to Promote PET Usage' Presentation at the The Politics of Surveillance Workshop, University of Ottawa, 10 May 2014, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, May 2014, at


Kosta E. et al. (eds.) (2008) 'Requirements for Privacy Enhancing Tools' Prime, March 2008, at

Pekárek M. & Pötzsch S. (eds.) (2009) 'Requirements and concepts for privacy-enhancing access control in social networks and collaborative workspaces' PrimeLife, July 2009, at

Author Affiliations

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

Andrew A. Adams is a Professor in the Graduate School of Business Administration at Meiji University, Tokyo, and Deputy Director of the School's Centre for Business Information Ethics.

Arash Shaghaghi is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University, focussing on security and privacy aspects of consumer services.

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