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The “privacy hump” hypothesis is an educated speculation, and it is not clear to us how to acquire empirical evidence to confirm or refute it. However, if this predictive model is correct, it would suggest many directions for future research. For example, research could investigate what factors contribute to the concerns expressed by a community of users. This might include better ways of tailoring new technologies to different categories of people, perhaps along the fundamentalist / pragmatist / unconcerned continuum (as described Section 3.1.1) or along an innovators / early adopters / early majority / late majority / laggards spectrum, as described by Rogers [250].

Other work could investigate what UIs, value propositions, and policies flatten the peak of the privacy hump and accelerate the process of acceptance (assuming a positive judgment by the designer that a given technology ought to be accepted) [158]. For example, we mentioned earlier in Section 4.5.1, when recounting PARC’s ubicomp experience, how poor framing of a technology severely impacted its acceptance.

Lastly, personal experience may affect an individual’s conception of privacy risks. For example, a preliminary study conducted by Pew Internet & American Life suggests that when people first use the Internet, they are less likely to engage in risky activities such as buying online or chatting with strangers, but are more likely to do so after a year of experience [237]. Understanding the privacy hump from these perspectives would be useful, because it would help us to understand how to better design and deploy technologies, how to increase the likelihood of their acceptance, and what acceptance timeline to expect.

5 Conclusions

In the past ten years, privacy has become a mainstream topic in human-computer interaction research, as attested by the growing number of surveys, studies, and experiments in this area. In this article, we presented a survey of this rich and diverse landscape, describing some of the legal foundations and historical aspects of privacy, sketching out an overview of the body of knowledge with respect to designing, implementing, and evaluating privacy-affecting systems, and charting many directions for future work.

We believe that the strong interest in and growth of this field is a response to legitimate concerns arising from the introduction of new technologies, and is, overall, a positive development. However, understanding privacy requires HCI practitioners to expand their field of view from traditional HCI domains such as social psychology and cognitive science, to a broader picture which includes economics and law.

In Section 4, we listed five challenges facing the field today, that must be tackled to advance the current state of the art in this field:

The development of better interaction techniques and standard defaults that users can easily understand.

The development of stronger analysis techniques and survey tools.

The documentation of the effectiveness of design tools, and the creation of a “privacy toolbox.”

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