A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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A to Z(ee) with P3P

When you build websites that rely on cookies and they are expected to work with privacy settings other than default, you’ll have to deal with P3P. Read on to find out about the cornerstones of the Platform for Privacy Preferences, and get your hands dirty with an example guiding you from empty hands to a complete basic implementation.

Willerich, Matthias. Content with Style. Articles>Web Design>Privacy>Standards


Ain't Miscommunicating: Business Communication At a Distance   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recently, while sitting in the waiting area of an out-patient surgical clinic, I was privy to one side of a cell phone conversation between a woman and a business associate. Apparently the woman was a social worker assigned to assist families with children who have gender identity issues. As the woman continued her conversation, discussing one particular family and giving intimate details of her meetings, I was astounded at the lack of concern for privacy. I learned the child’s full name (including the proper spelling of her first and last name), date of birth, social security number, street address—and then I learned her mother’s name and personal identification information as well. I was not alone.

Hemby, K. Virginia. Business Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Privacy


Anonymous Cowards, Avatars, and the Zeitgeist: Personal Identity in Flux: Part I

Governments and large organizations, with legal and administrative concerns like taxation and security typically address the practical aspects of identity we experience on a daily basis—issuing IDs and credentials and deciding the mechanisms for their verification. This division of responsibilities for defining and executing the construct of personal identity is nearly as old as the mind/body schism at the heart of Western culture.

Lamantia, Joe. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>Privacy>Social Networking


Anonymous Personalization: Part I

Personalization versus privacy. It's not a question of which will ultimately prevail. But rather, how can we have both?

Allen, Cliff. Allen.com (2003). Design>Web Design>Personalization>Privacy


Bloggers' Alert: Confidentiality and Disclosure in the Workplace

First it was e-mail messages, next it was PDA messaging, and now it is blogs. These networking tools are all widely used by employees. They also sometimes become a source of contentious litigation when employers become concerned over the risk of corporate liability and public disclosure of confidential information that these new technologies pose.

Siegel, Ariane. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Privacy>Blogging


Concerned About RFID Tags? You Should Be

Gives a brief overview about how RFID tags work and examines the threat RFID tags pose to consumers and privacy in general.

Cook, J.R. Orange Journal, The (2005). Articles>Technology>Privacy


Controlling Privacy on Social Networking Services

Among the challenges facing social networking services, concerns about security and privacy are becoming increasingly significant. In particular, even if we trust do a given social networking service provider, the mechanisms for restricting who can see the information we publish are usually inadequate. Despite all of their claims to offer fine-grained control over who can see what, they provide far more control over the what than the who. First, I’ll describe an Object-Actor-Action permissions model and survey some social networking services’ current approaches to privacy control. Then, I’ll propose two specific constructs—privacy onions and privacy tags—that attempt to address control over the Actor dimension at the appropriate level of granularity. Finally, I’ll outline the advantages of the privacy tag approach.

Clarke, Matthew C. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Social Networking>Privacy


Does Privacy Exist in the Age of Social Networking?

There’s an increasing breakdown of the traditional boundaries between personal and public information, and in the age of Facebook and Twitter, it is a time of cultural shift that is going to take a while to stabilize itself and shake out.

Kadrich, Mark. ISSA Journal (2009). Articles>Social Networking>Privacy


Email in the Workplace: Employees Perceive Email Differently than Employers

Argues that employees' misunderstanding of email in the workplace has in part stemmed from employers not being direct about the need to monitor it. By being clear and direct, employers can possibly reduce misuse and ultimately the need for such intrusive email monitoring.

Knox, Jessica. Orange Journal, The (2005). Articles>Workplace>Email>Privacy


Ethics and Information   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article gives a detailed encyclopedic overview of the many areas and concepts that fall within the domain of information ethics. Thus, it offers brief synoptic remarks on, for example, privacy and peer review, rather than in-depth discussions of these topics, many of which have generated thousands of studies, articles, and monographic treatments.

Hauptman, Robert. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Information Design>Privacy>Ethics


Facebook's Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion, and Social Convergence   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Not all Facebook users appreciated the September 2006 launch of the `News Feeds' feature. Concerned about privacy implications, thousands of users vocalized their discontent through the site itself, forcing the company to implement privacy tools. This essay examines the privacy concerns voiced following these events. Because the data made easily visible were already accessible with effort, what disturbed people was primarily the sense of exposure and invasion. In essence, the `privacy trainwreck' that people experienced was the cost of social convergence.

Boyd, Danah. Convergence (2008). Articles>Web Design>Privacy


Graceful E-Mail Obfuscation

Most e-mail obfuscation techniques I've tried tend to be bothersome and time-consuming to implement because they have to be applied to each and every e-mail address that you want to protect. Most require you to use lengthy inline script elements and inline event handlers. They may also invalidate your markup.

Van Gils, Roel. List Apart, A (2007). Design>Web Design>Privacy>Email


Guiding Principles for Providing "Remember Me" Personalization

As we set out to enhance personalization on Marriott.com, we realized we needed guidelines to inform our thinking and shape our decisions, particularly decisions related to customer privacy. Our earlier user research revealed the need for greater personalization and helped us understand customer attitudes towards privacy. From there, we sought to build customer trust and loyalty by addressing concerns about privacy and security in every aspect of the user experience. In creating the Guiding Principles outlined here, we conducted a thorough analysis of eight major websites and then merged the findings with what we already knew. These principles apply specifically to 'remember me' personalization.

Peters, Meg. Boxes and Arrows (2006). Articles>Web Design>Privacy>Personalization


Hidden Information for All to See

While it takes special forensic tools to access most of the hidden information in computers, some of it is in plain view and can be seen without forensic tools. This article is about one of the 'plain view' instances: information Microsoft Word saves about you, your company, and the topic you are writing about, all of which can be seen by anyone who has access to your document.

Molisani, Jacki. Indus (2006). Articles>Information Design>Privacy>Microsoft Word


In Defense of Facebook

People believe that Facebook and the web in general should be able to protect the information we post online. I argue that this is untrue, because it goes against the fundamental design of Facebook, social media, and the web itself. We should be relying on ourselves for our privacy, and not turning Facebook into our convenient scapegoat.

Parr, Ben. Mashable (2010). Articles>Social Networking>Privacy>Ethics


Know Privacy

In this project we examined the common practices among website operators of collecting, sharing and analyzing data about their users. We attempted to identify practices which may be deceptive or potentially harmful to users’ privacy and we make recommendations for changes in industry practice or government regulations accordingly. We compared industry practices with users’ expectations of privacy, identified points of divergence, and developed solutions for them.

Know Privacy (2009). Resources>Knowledge Management>Privacy


No Place to Play: Current Employee Privacy Rights in Social Networking Sites   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Employers have legitimate business interests in monitoring workplace Internet use: to minimize legal exposure, to increase productivity, and to avoid proprietary information loss. Since employees arguably have no expectation of privacy in their work on employers' computers, there are few grounds for complaint if they are disciplined for straying from corporate policy on such use. In this heavily scrutinized work environment, it is no small wonder that employees crave a place to unwind and play “electronically” after hours. In unprecedented numbers, America's workers are visiting online social networking sites (OSNs) and posting tidbits that might not be considered job-appropriate by their employer. Here, many postulate they do have an expectation of and indeed a right to privacy, especially in arenas used to express personal freedoms and exercise individualism that has no bearing on their workplace.

Genova, Gina L. Business Communication Quarterly (2009). Careers>Workplace>Privacy>Social Networking


Online Privacy as Legal Safeguard: The Relationship Among Consumer, Online Portal, and Privacy Policies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Several surveys attest to growing public concerns regarding privacy, aggravated by the diffusion of information technologies. A policy of self-regulation that allows individual companies to implement self-designed privacy statements is prevalent in the United States. These statements rarely provide specific privacy guarantees that personal information will be kept confidential. This study provides a discourse analysis of such privacy statements to determine their overall efficacy as a policy measure. The in-depth analysis of privacy statements revealed that they offer little protection to the consumer, instead serving to authorize business practices which allow companies to profit from consumer data. Using public good theory as a foundation, policy implications are discussed.

Fernback, Jan and Zizi Papacharissi. New Media and Society (2007). Articles>Web Design>Privacy>Contracts


Online Privacy: Check Yourself (Before You Wreck Yourself)

In an online world where personalization rules, there are two main ways to protect your personal data: Be vigilant about what you publish online; and be willing to roll up your sleeves and dig into the settings area of the tools and services you use to do so.

Trapani, Gina. Fast Company (2010). Articles>Social Networking>Privacy>Web Browsers


Open Data’s Access Problem, and How to Solve it

The recent Gov 2.0 summit in Washington D.C. saw several promising new announcements which will help government agencies share code and best practices for making public data available to developers. The idea behind new projects like Challenge.gov, the FCC’s new developer tools and the Civic Commons is that by giving developers access to data previously stored in dusty filing cabinets, they can create tools to give ordinary citizens greater access to that data.

Gilbertson, Scott. Webmonkey (2010). Articles>Information Design>Privacy>Government



Privacy is especially difficult to define because it means different things to different people. Each of us has our own privacy needs. Women often have different privacy concerns than men; asking a 9-year-old child his age over the Net has different privacy implications from asking the same question of a middle-aged adult. A question that may not be seen as violating our privacy in one situation could have that appearance in another.

Coyle, Karen. Karen Coyle (1999). Presentations>Information Design>Privacy


Privacy 101

It's a fact that some businesses and organizations do not take privacy very seriously. However, the truth is that privacy of confidential customer information is mandated by law — many laws, actually. There are more privacy laws than we can discuss here. But...

Intranet Journal (2003). Articles>Management>Privacy


Privacy in the United States: Some Implications for Design   (peer-reviewed)

In the United States, "privacy" largely centers on the degree to which an individual feels in control over the accessibility of whatever she or he feels is "private." I explore this conceptualization of privacy, drawing primarily on the work of U.S. scholars as well as an ethnographic study including 74 mostly middle and upper-middle class individuals who were interviewed from June 2001-December 2002. I examine the ways in which participants try to achieve privacy as they pursue the principle of "selective disclosure and concealment." I conclude that 1) the affordance of such selectivity may be a key element when it comes to objects, environments, services, and technological systems designed for the U.S., 2) it is important to use familiar (local), easily understood and manipulated mechanisms and metaphors when designing for privacy, 3) notions of privacy may vary widely, and if privacy is an important design consideration, deeper, local understandings of what it means and how it is normally achieved are necessary, and 4) at times, designers might benefit from focusing on the ways in which design features give preference to some stakeholders' interests at the expense of others' via the provision or denial of traditional forms of privacy.

Nippert-Eng, Christena. International Journal of Design (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Privacy>United States


Privacy Laws and Communication

With the advent of the Internet and the ability to send personal information to many places in very little time, privacy has become an important issue for businesses across the globe. How to retain the free flow of information without violating an individual’s right to privacy is a difficult balance to strike and one that different countries approach in various ways.

Turbeville, Heather. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Privacy>Email


Privacy Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

For those of us who regularly visit certain Web sites, the value of identifying ourselves to those sites grows quickly and painfully obvious: Accepting cookies from a Web site could potentially eliminate endlessly retyping our personal information, memorizing yet another login password, repeatedly re-customizing how a site responds to us, and enduring irrelevant information such as untargeted banner ads. But even those of us who appreciate the value of sharing personal information with Web sites and their designers have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the potential for abuse inherent in having confidential information about our identities and preferences broadly available. Even if a site isn't cracked and our private information stolen--always a risk on the Web--the site owner is bound to sell the information to commercial mailing lists, thereby guaranteeing us a lifetime supply of junk mail. Worst of all, we won't even be able to burn that junk on cold winter nights to stay warm.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. TECHWR-L (2002). Design>Web Design>Privacy



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