Type Indeterminacy in Privacy Decisions: The Privacy Paradox Revisited

  • Christian Flender
  • Günter Müller
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7620)


The paper at hand aims to provide a rational explanation of why people generously give away personal data while at the same time being highly concerned about their privacy. For many years, research has come up with attempts to untangle the privacy paradox. We provide a thorough literature review on privacy decisions in socio-economic scenarios and identify explanatory gaps. To explain paradoxical behavior in privacy decision making we illuminate (1) generous data disclosure and (2) high valuation of privacy as two non-commuting observations of incompatible preferences (types). Abstract risk awareness of privacy threats and concrete privacy decisions are not interchangeable, i.e. disclosing personal data prior to becoming aware of privacy risks does not equal the raising of risk awareness before revealing personal information. Privacy decisions do not commute as subjects may alter their preferences indeterminately, i.e. at the time an actual decision is made, in response to discomfort arising from conflicting preferences.


Privacy Indeterminacy Noncommutativity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Flender
    • 1
  • Günter Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Computer Science and Social StudiesUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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