Anouk Mols: Mobile privacy and surveillance: Evaluating users’ everyday negotiations and practices

Anouk Mols | Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication | Promotor(es) prof. dr Suzanne Janssen, supervisor(s): dr Jason Pridmore | 1 October 2016 – 30 September 2020 | mols[at]

Mobile privacy and surveillance: Evaluating users’ everyday negotiations and practices
Overarching project: Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US (funded by NWO/NSF)

Mobile devices offer users unlimited new possibilities, three of which are the opportunity to keep an eye on your neighbourhood through WhatsApp groups, to use wearables and apps which monitor your health and track your fitness achievements, and to constantly receive assistance from an intelligent personal assistant. However, these mobile and interconnected platforms might also have an effect on how users negotiate their privacy as they increase the potential for more pervasive forms of digitally mediated surveillance by companies, marketers, governments, employers and Internet Service Providers. Anouk Mols’ mixed-methods PhD project focuses on how users of mobile technologies negotiate the costs and benefits of emerging mobile technologies with regard to surveillance and privacy. She studies  the everyday negotiations and practices of users of neighbourhood watch messaging groups (WhatsApp Buurtpreventie), work messaging groups, fitness and health tracking apps and wearables, intelligent personal assistants (e.g. Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa), and smart speakers (e.g. Google Home and Amazon Echo). The research design includes in-depth interviews, focus groups and a privacy vignettes survey (which will be conducted in collaboration with the U.S. project partners at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Maryland). This research project provides new insights into how people develop, perceive and negotiate privacy and how mobile technologies influence the way people think about information disclosure.