Privacy in Digital Environments:
Empowering Users

[index][organizers][call for participation][participants][related][cscw 2002]


Theme. People are deeply concerned about their privacy, and are quite adept at defining limits and maintaining barriers in the physical world. Yet, in the digital world we are no longer good privacy managers. Our motivation and interest do not disappear in the transition from the physical to the digital; the systems we use strip us of the power to become effective privacy managers.

Often these failures are attributable to us as designers and developers; our systems do not always provide access to information users need to make informed decisions about their privacy. At other times we overload users with too much information, making managing their privacy too much of a burden. As system designers, we have paid little attention to protecting user privacy, and even less to empowering them to take charge of their own privacy.

This workshop seeks to address the privacy needs and concerns of users in the design of digital environments, whether they be websites, collaborative calendar systems, collaborative work environments, online communities, communications systems or ubiquitous computing environments. Each of these settings faces real and pressing challenges when it comes to protecting user privacy.

We shall seek answers to the following questions: What can we, as designers, do to increase user awareness of what our environments are doing and how user information is collected and used? How can we empower users to manage the ways in which they are represented in the environments or to limit their exposure when needed?


  • Develop a common vocabulary for addressing privacy in digital environments.
  • Develop a common understanding of the expectations of users within the context of various usage scenarios.
  • Establish a set of ethical guidelines for researchers and developers of digital environments.
  • Identify promising approaches to supporting notice and consent in digital environments.



Privacy in Digital Environments: Empowering Users is a CSCW 2002 workshop to be held on 16 November 2002 in New Orleans. For more information, contact the organizers.