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Dr David Haynes receives Royal Academy of Engineering research fellowship

The Visiting Lecturer in the Centre for Information Science will investigate the nature of risk in the calculus of privacy.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

Dr David Haynes, a researcher in the Centre for Information Science, will be investigating the nature of risk in the privacy calculus with the assistance of a two-year, post-doctoral research fellowship, valued at £174,614.

The Fellowship has been made possible by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Office of the Chief Science Adviser for National Security under the UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme.

Until now, research on the privacy calculus has largely been based on user perceptions of the risks and benefits associated with disclosure of personal information.

In his investigation of personal risks associated with use of online social networking services, Dr Haynes found an absence of consensus on a risk typology and has identified the need for further work to provide a consistent approach to the privacy calculus.

Research carried out during the Fellowship will investigate the nature of risk using empirical data and sets out to address the following research questions:

  • Is there a reliable typology for personal risk that can be used to analyse the privacy calculus that users engage in?
  • What is the nature of the interactions and risks that users engage in when they use the Internet?
  • Can the new risk typology be applied to existing empirical data to refine the privacy calculus?
  • What effect will the new categorisation of risk have?
  • Can these figures be used to improve the predictions of user behaviour?

Dr Haynes' research aims to determine whether a suitable risk model can be developed from the experience of risk management in different sectors.

Case studies of actual user behaviour will be used to identify the points of exposure to risk. The results of transactional analysis will test and refine the typology of personal risk. The research will feed into a re-thinking of the nature of risk and development of a robust typology of risk for further studies.

Public safety is improved if individual users are able to make informed choices about disclosure of personal information.

The Privacy Calculus is a method for balancing perceived risks and benefits of online transactions. This depends on categorisation risk, but there is no consensus on a risk typology. David’s doctoral work focused on the risks associated with access to personal data on online social networking services (SNSs). The thesis tested the idea that personal risk could be used as a way of assessing regulatory effectiveness. This current project will build on that work by developing the risk model that emerged from his previous research.

The Centre for Information Science is a part of the Department of Library and Information Science in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering.

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