Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 419–439 | Cite as

Technology, Families, and Privacy: Can We Know Too Much About Our Loved Ones?

  • Robert N. Mayer


Both an array of privacy advocates and a body of privacy policies have emerged to reduce threats to personal privacy posed by Big Government and Big Business. Technologies that threaten personal privacy when employed by large institutions are increasingly being used by family members to track one another, but without a comparable level of societal scrutiny and control. This paper examines four such technologies – internet tracking software, global positioning systems, miniature cameras, and genetic tests – to gauge their level of use and public acceptance and then to consider their impact on family relations, especially those between parent and child and between spouses. While these technologies are intended to promote the safety of family members, by disrupting personal privacy, they may also provoke a number of counterproductive responses that reduce safety. Moreover, the deployment of these technologies may inhibit the development of trust and trustworthiness within the family. Partly owing to a lack of understanding of how new technologies affect family relations, both formal and informal efforts to control these technologies have been slow to develop.


Family Member Genetic Test Economic Policy Privacy Policy Comparable Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Mayer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family & Consumer StudiesUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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