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Smartphone ­sers Are Redefining Privacy in Public Spaces

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Smartphone users in a public place.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University say individuals' privacy is diminished by "dynamic visibility."


Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers say "dynamic visibility," in which technological surveillance is combined with personal information volunteered by individuals online, diminishes privacy.

TAU's Tali Hatuka says any time a person uses location-aware devices, driving or dating apps, or checks in on Facebook, they are eroding their own privacy.

The TAU researchers found some differences among sharing preferences in different types of digital spaces, but these paled beside the willingness of participants to share their locations with their social networks.

The researchers developed Smart-Spaces, an Android application that combines smartphone-based surveys with the online tracking of locations and phone app usage. The app was installed for 20 days on the phones of TAU students, who answered context-based surveys in the course of their daily routines.

Hatuka notes not only did more than 73% of participants share their locations as they answered the surveys, but "there was a correlation between the kind of space they were in...and their willingness to provide information, with a higher willingness to share location and other information when the subject was in public spaces."

From American Friends of Tel Aviv University
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