YouTube and Shifting Norms of Public/Private

The theory of “privacy as contextual integrity” provides the tools for considering how the introduction of new technologies/practices within a particular context might disrupt norms of information flow, potentially threatening values of privacy, autonomy, or liberty. It is especially useful when considering subtle shifts in information flows that flirt with the boundaries between public & private spheres, such as driving along the highway, having your photo taken in public, or providing information on social network sites such as Facebook.

Another important sphere to consider within the framework of contextual integrity is the explosion of online video sharing sites such as YouTube. Michael Geist starts the conversation in this BBC essay on how private lives are increasingly exposed on net video sites, which concludes with concern about how the spread of these sites might affect our expectations of privacy:

As technology continues to evolve, it is unlikely that such measures will prove successful. With built-in video cameras on laptop computers, portable devices and cell phones, and widespread internet access, the clip culture is rapidly morphing from bits of favourite television shows to videos of our friends, neighbours, and even ourselves.

Rather than banning the technology, we must instead begin to grapple with the implications of these changes by considering the boundaries between transparency and privacy. As our expectations of the availability of video changes, so too must our sense of the video rules of the road.

There is important work to be done in this area…after the dissertation.

[via Pogo Was Right]

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