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Putting Privacy into Perspective – Comparing Technical, Legal, and Users’ View of Information Sensitivity

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Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn


Social media, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things connect people around the globe, offering manifold benefits. However, the technological advances and increased user participation generate novel challenges for users' privacy. From the users' perspective, the consequences of data disclosure depend on the perceived sensitivity of that data. But in light of the new technological opportunities to process and combine data, it is questionable whether users can adequately evaluate risks of data disclosures. As mediating authority, data protection laws such as the European General Data Protection Regulation try to protect user data, granting enhanced protection to “special categories” of data. In this paper, we assess the legal, technological, and users' perspectives on information sensitivity and their interplay. Technologically, all data can be referred to as “potentially sensitive.” The legal and users' perspective on information sensitivity deviate from this standpoint, as some data types are granted special protection by law but are not perceived as very sensitive by users and vice versa. Our key findings still suggest the GDPR adequately protecting users' privacy but for small adjustments.


Schomakers, Eva-Maria; Lidynia, Chantal; Müllmann, Dirk; Matzutt, Roman; Wehrle, Klaus; Spiecker genannt Döhmann, Indra; Ziefle, Martina (2021): Putting Privacy into Perspective – Comparing Technical, Legal, and Users’ View of Information Sensitivity. INFORMATIK 2020. DOI: 10.18420/inf2020_76. Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn. PISSN: 1617-5468. ISBN: 978-3-88579-701-2. pp. 857-870. Recht und Technik – Datenschutz im Diskurs. Karlsruhe. 28. September - 2. Oktober 2020