Online privacy behavior among youth in the Global South: A closer look at diversity of connectivity and information literacy

Jan Michael Alexandre Cortez Bernadas (De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines)
Cheryll Ruth Soriano (De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Publication date: 11 March 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, it explores the extent to which diversity of connectivity or the connection through multiple internet access points may facilitate online privacy behavior. Second, it explains the diversity of connectivity-online privacy behavior link in terms of information literacy.

Design/methodology/approach

Situated in the context of urban poor youth in the Philippines (n = 300), this paper used a quantitative approach, specifically an interview-administered survey technique. Respondents were from three cities in Metro Manila. To test for indirect relationship, survey data were analyzed using bootstrapping technique via SPSS macro PROCESS (Hayes, 2013).

Findings

Urban poor youth with diversified connection to the internet engaged in online privacy behavior. The more the youth are connected to the internet through diverse modalities, the more this fosters cautious online privacy behavior. In addition, information literacy explained how diversity of connectivity facilitated online privacy behavior. It suggests that differences in online privacy behavior may result from the extent of basic know-how of navigating online information. In the context of the urban poor in the Global South, the youth are constantly negotiating ways to not only connect to the internet but also acquire digital skills necessary for protective online behaviors.

Originality/value

To date, this is one of the few papers to contribute to conversations about online privacy among youth in the Global South. It broadens the literature on social determinants of online privacy behavior that is crucial for designing policy interventions for those in the margins.

Keywords

Citation

Bernadas, J. and Soriano, C. (2019), "Online privacy behavior among youth in the Global South", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 17-30. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-03-2018-0025

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited


1. Introduction

Information and communication technology (ICT) has expanded reach, from affluent centers to the margins of the Global South. Yet, while online access among youth in the Global South is increasing, little evidence about the extent to which they protect themselves online is available (Brown and Pecora, 2014, p. 201, 203-204; Livingstone and Bulger, 2014, p. 318). In addition, there is paucity of research explaining the determinants and conditions for online privacy behaviors, especially in the context of marginalized communities. To address this gap, this paper explores how and why young people in slum communities engage in online privacy behavior. Drawing theoretical insights from social differentiation approach (van Dijk and Hacker, 2003, p. 321, 324) and second-level digital divide (Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6, 40-41) and empirical evidence from interview-administered survey of urban poor youth in Metro Manila and their digital practices, it argues for the importance of understanding structural and cognitive realities underlying online privacy behavior. In doing so, it hopes to engage with policy conversations about online data privacy rights in general (Collste, 2008, p. 76, 85; Gow, 2005, pp. 76-85; Park, 2011, pp. 658-659) and of youth in the Global South in particular (Brown and Pecora, 2014, p. 205; Livingstone and Bulger, 2014, p. 318).

According to the Asian Development Bank, of the 862 million people globally living in slums in 2013, 62.4 per cent of them are in Asia. The Philippines is one of the Asian countries with a significant slum population, with 4.3M people or about 37 per cent of residents in Metro Manila living in slums (Mathur, 2013, p. 2). In 2009, about 13.4 million (35.5 per cent) of children below 18 years old in the country were considered income poor (United Nations Children’s Fund and Philippine Statistics Authority, 2015, p. 8), while around 1.4 million youths were living in informal settlements or slums – or one in every 10 children in the Philippines’ National Capital Region (p. 31). The entry of low-cost mobile devices, creative service pricing, and establishment of innovative access modalities expanded connectivity to the internet and social media for these youth in the economic margins (Arora, 2017, pp. 1-5; Raynes-Goldie, 2010, p. 3, 23-24). Analyzing how this expanding number of internet users in underprivileged contexts view and respond to privacy issues provides a means to understand complex online behaviors in the information age. Although the internet is a global technology and privacy is understood by some as a universal right, it is important to understand how situated use and the nature of internet connectivity may shed light on divergences in digital cultures and online privacy behaviors (Cho et al., 2009, p. 395, 411-412; Livingstone and Bulger, 2014, pp. 327-328; Livingstone and Helsper, 2013, pp. 1-2, 6). By focusing on the experiences of relatively understudied population–internet users in the economic margins, it heeds the challenge of addressing “deficit-based approaches to cultural and social difference” (Alper et al., 2016, p. 107) and seeks to enrich conversations about youth digital cultures, privacy, and literacy.

1.1 Online privacy behavior in the economic margins

Recognizing the implications of the information age for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Livingstone and Bulger (2014) outlined four research priorities and one of which focuses on privacy (p. 318). In Global Research Agenda For Children’s Rights in the Digital Age, Livingstone and Bulger (2014) raised the question of “To what extent does the use of ICT by children compound existing vulnerabilities or introduce new risks of harm to children’s well-being?” (p. 318). As they start to find ways to connect to the internet, youth are expected to deal with developments that pose threats to their online privacy (Brown and Pecora, 2014, pp. 203-204; Christofides et al., 2012, p. 715, 717, 727). In the face of online privacy risks, youth in the Global South are as equally vulnerable, if not more, than their counterparts in the Global North.

According to Cohen (2013), the protection of privacy is “a critical foundation to citizenship and self- reflection” (p. 1905). As the protection of privacy is connected to people’s capability to maintain autonomy and control over their lives (boyd, 2008, pp. 13-15; Westin, 2003; p. 431; 433-434), privacy is strongly tied to advancing human dignity. At the same time, privacy is viewed as central to the capacity for innovation “because privacy shelters play and experimentation from which innovation emerges” (Cohen, 2013, pp. 1905-1906). Characterizing privacy as a right extends to the youth, particularly as they integrate the internet in everyday life (Brown and Pecora, 2014, p. 201; Steeves and Regan, 2014, p. 303). These would imply the importance of understanding the value that youth assign to the protection of their personal data and the conditions that shape their online privacy behavior.

Yet, reviewing the extant literature reveals that privacy is multidimensional and that there is no single definition of what online privacy protection behavior is (Solove, 2008, pp. 1-5). Online privacy behavior is characterized as the extent to which internet users engage in information control and privacy settings (Christofides et al., 2012, pp. 719-721). This involves keeping control of one’s personal information while deflecting unwanted intrusions (Cho et al., 2009, p. 404, 407-408). As boyd (2008) claims, “Privacy is a sense of control over information, the context where sharing takes place, and the audience who can gain access” (p. 18). In comparison to passive protection, active protection (or the control-based definition of privacy) pertains to the adoption of various self-protection behaviors. This suggests that individuals determine for themselves the extent by which personal information will and can be exposed to others (Cho, 2014, pp. 4-6). Meanwhile, passive protection pertains to reliance on external entities for privacy protection.

Research on youth in the Global North suggests that many young people perceive themselves as capable of having control over the disclosure of personal information online; of recognizing the accompanying risks; and of managing potentially negative outcomes (Agosto and Abbas, 2017, p. 1, 7; boyd and Hargittai, 2010, p. 53; Marwick and boyd, 2014, p. 1056, 1063; Steeves and Regan, 2014, p. 299, 304).This highlights the central role of rationality, control, and choice over how and to whom young people disclose personal information online (Livingstone, 2008, pp. 10-13). This in turn surfaces the relationship between online privacy behavior and digital and information literacy (Park, 2013, p. 217, 230).

While online privacy research in affluent contexts continues to expand, there is limited exploration on how the youth in marginalized communities perceive or exercise online privacy behavior. This is because in such contexts, the narrative focus is often on whether the digital divide is “bridged” in terms of expanding access to the infrastructure. According to DiMaggio and Hargittai (2001), it is important to move from concerns of digital divide which segregate the “technology haves” from the “have nots” to questions of digital inequality, which encompasses not only access to the infrastructure but also the extent by which users have the skill and “effective access” over the use of the Web (p. 18). It is precisely in the context of limited financial and technological resources that it becomes imperative to ask, to what extent do youth in slums exercise online privacy behavior? What factors influence online privacy behavior of youth in slums?

1.2 Internet access experience and online privacy behavior: a focus on diversity of connectivity

Park (2013, p. 215) examined the role of variations in internet access experience as a predictor of online privacy behavior. Specifically, Park (2013, p. 220) explored whether accessing the internet ubiquitously (i.e. anytime, anywhere one chooses) shaped digital literacy, which in turn can facilitate online privacy behavior. For economically disadvantaged youth, autonomy, or the question of how much control one exercises over access to the internet, is deemed important (DiMaggio and Hargittai, 2001, p. 9). DiMaggio and Hargittai (2001, p. 10) hypothesize that among people who have access to the internet, the greater the autonomy, the greater the benefit one can derive from internet use. Unlike users in affluent or middle class contexts, who have the means to subscribe to continuous or unlimited mobile data and access to Wi-Fi points where such forms of connectivity are more affordable or reliable, youth in slum communities in Manila have to move strategically across available and intermittent forms of internet connectivity – from public access ICTs such as computer shops to mobile connectivity via public Wi-Fi spots or free internet data promotions. In other words, youth in the Global South are likely to experience “under-connectedness” (Katz, 2017, p. 242) which emphasizes quality access to internet. Following the logic of “under-connectedness” (Katz, 2017, p. 242), youth in slum communities are likely to face challenges in protecting themselves online despite having access to mobile phones or computers. While seemingly unrelated, “ubiquitous internetting” (Peter and Valkenburg, 2006, p. 294) and “under-connectedness” (Katz, 2017, p. 242) highlight the importance of diversity of connectivity as a social determinant of online privacy behavior among the youth in the Global South.

Diversity in internet connectivity is different from the amount of internet connectivity (Freese et al., 2006, p. 241; Park, 2011, p. 223; Peter and Valkenburg, 2006, p. 298; van Dijk, 2006, p. 224). On the one hand, diversity in internet connectivity encompasses the differentiated nature of connectivity of youth in the economic margins. For instance, scholars (Lenhart and Horrigan, 2003, pp. 23-24) have argued for a reconceptualization of connection to the internet as a “continuum” or “spectrum”. On the other hand, the amount of internet connectivity may simply refer to the extent or frequency of going online. The conceptual distinction between diversity of internet connectivity and amount of connectivity is crucial because it highlights the nuances in the reality of access among youth as influenced by the materiality of hardware (e.g. mobile devices and laptops) and internet connectivity (e.g. personal mobile broadband, mobile data, free data, shared Wi-Fi, private establishment Wi-Fi and government Wi-Fi). Although it is commonly assumed that slums are homogenous communities, earlier research has shown that asymmetry is also manifested in the nature of access, internet experience, and extent of autonomy youth exercise over their internet connectivity in such spaces (Portus, 2008, pp. 107-108; Soriano and Cao, 2017; pp. 82-83, 93). While youth who have no access to a home-based PC or mobile device have to rely solely on public access connectivity, others have access to personal or family-owned devices. For users who have access to personal or home-based devices, youth also exercise differing levels of autonomy in terms of how they can connect to the internet and through which range of access modalities. These include personal mobile broadband, personal mobile Wi-Fi, free data, home-owned Wi-Fi or DSL connection, borrowed or shared Wi-Fi from neighbors, access to a public Wi-Fi from government, and Wi-Fi access from a private establishment.

Diversity in internet connectivity is important because it is a function of autonomy, or youth’s capability to strategically move across multiple available forms of internet connectivity given limited financial resources. Likewise; it is an exposure to risk (the more diverse the modalities for internet connectivity, the more youth are exposed to risk).

Taken together, diversity in internet connectivity ultimately characterizes the nature of internet experience of youth in the economic margins. According to Singh and Hill (2003, p. 648) exposure to risk, and in this context, multiple forms of connectivity, can heighten “privacy concern” and in turn promote online privacy behavior. Privacy concern pertains to an individual’s uneasiness over the use of their personal data, including the levels of trust or distrust in various internet industries and operations such as surveillance (Park et al., 2012, pp. 1019-1021; Westin, 2003, p. 444, 449; Bellman et al., 2004, p. 316, 322), and is shaped by perceptions of risk and anxiety (Cho et al., 2009, p. 399, 410; Youn, 2005, p. 86, 104-105). As argued by Park et al. (2012), an increased concern about one’s privacy in an online environment is likely to elicit a behavioral response when knowledge about and exposure to the risk is manifested (pp. 1019, 1024, 1026). In this paper, exposure to internet risks and autonomy are estimated through diversity in internet connectivity, such that, the more the youth connect to the internet through diverse modalities, the more this fosters cautious online privacy behavior. Drawing theoretical warrant from social differentiation approach (van Dijk and Hacker, 2003, p. 321, 324), this paper advances the first hypothesis (H1):

H1.

Diversity of connectivity is positively related to online privacy behavior, that is, urban poor youth with diversified connection to the internet are likely to protect themselves online.

1.3 Information literacy and online privacy behavior: extending the second-level digital divide

Literacy is crucial for achieving the democratic and empowering potentials of communication technologies (Cho et al., 2009, p. 412; Park, 2013, p. 215, 230, 233). Digital literacy often pertains to the process of linking training in communication technology and skills directly to everyday activities and the process by which such skills are developed and shared. Scholars suggest that different levels of digital literacy can support or inhibit users in certain internet-specific domains (Hargittai, 2002, p. 6), such as privacy or personalized control of data. However, the focus on technological capacity and skills, while of value to promoting particular forms of online behavior, does not fully encompass the range of literacies people need in the context of the complex digital environment (Dunn, 2010, p. 337, 342-343).

Another form of literacy, information literacy, pertains to “the ability to access, evaluate and use information from a variety of sources” (Doyle, 1992, p. 2). The need for information literacy is highlighted by the Asian Development Bank in 2009 when it proclaimed that information literacy is a human right and a necessary skill for development in the increasingly digital world. Moving from traditional measures of information literacy that focus on the capability to locate needed information, more recent frameworks of information literacy incorporate the elements of access, evaluation, and use of information. One’s access to information does not guarantee the ability to assess the veracity and use of the information available. Catts and Lau (2008) measure information literacy in terms of a broad range of dimensions encompassing one’s capability to:

  • “recognize information needs;

  • locate and evaluate the quality of information;

  • store and retrieve information;

  • make effective and ethical use of information; and

  • apply information to create and communicate knowledge” (p. 12).

With the overabundance of information available in the Web, one needs to be able not only to locate needed information but also, to evaluate which types and pieces of information are useful and reliable. The capability to store and retrieve information in one’s knowledge base is also deemed to be a crucial component of information literacy (Catts and Lau, 2008, p. 12). By retrieving information, one must be able to incorporate the newly acquired knowledge to daily life and use the new information ethically. Information literacy is therefore important in making decisions and in assessing the impact of these decisions but it also needs to be understood in the context of the cultural, political, and historical contexts of the community in which it is used (Dunn, 2010, pp. 341-342, 339). However, as Livingstone and Bulger (2014) suggest:

[…] children in the global South receive little if any information literacy teaching in the digital age that could enable them to meet the interpretative challenges that are demanding even for those in the global North for whom such services were designed (p. 325).

The relationship between information literacy and online privacy behavior may be explained using the “knowledge gap hypothesis”, which states that people are concerned about their privacy and would like to behave accordingly if they have the capability to act on their concerns (DiMaggio and Hargittai, 2001, p. 81; Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6-7). The central question is whether information literacy enhances one’s capacity to act on perceived risks and to harness one’s autonomy to access the internet. Of particular interest is whether for the youth – who access the internet through diverse forms of connectivity – the interactive relationship between the capacity to find, evaluate, store, retrieve, and effectively utilize information online enhances online privacy behavior and one’s level of concern over websites and organizational entities collecting personal information online. Drawing theoretical warrant from second-level digital divide (Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6-7), this paper advances the second hypothesis (H2):

H2.

Diversity of connectivity indirectly influences online privacy behavior through information literacy, that is, diversified connection is likely to encourage online privacy protection by enhancing information literacy of urban poor youth.

2 Methods

2.1 Participants and procedures

A sample of 300 was purposively recruited in three Metro Manila cities. Majority of the participants were male (59.3 per cent) and ranged in age from 11 to 25 years (M = 17.89, SD = 2.88). Among the respondents, 97 per cent were single, 61.7 per cent were “currently studying”, 43.7 per cent of whom were enrolled high school. Prior to data collection, approval from the institutional review board at the affiliated university and barangay (the smallest unit of government in the Philippines) officials was secured. Three interviewers were hired to administer the survey. To improve reliability, interviewers were trained and pilot-test of survey was conducted. Table I shows the profile of respondents.

Data collection was divided into four phases. First, interviewers asked respondents to fill out the informed consent form (if minor, assent and parental consent). Second, they implemented the survey instrument by asking questions and enumerating choices, and repeated as necessary. Third, they recorded answers appropriately. Fourth, interviewers asked participants to fill out the token receipt form upon provision of token worth US$1.50. The interview survey was conducted in Tagalog from December 2016 to January 2017 and ranged from 12 to 25 min.

2.3 Measures

2.3.1 Online privacy behavior.

As dependent variable, online privacy behavior was measured by asking respondents if they engaged in the following:

  • change passwords;

  • delete browser history;

  • private browsing;

  • log-out after use; and

  • check privacy options.

These online privacy behaviors were based on the work of Chakraborty et al. (2013, p. 950-951) and Christofides et al. (2012, pp. 720-721). Answers were added to operationalize online privacy behaviors, such that, higher scores suggest use of more online privacy behaviors (0 = did not use any of the five online privacy behaviors, 5 = used all five online privacy behaviors). The reported mean score for online privacy behavior is 2.98 (SD = 1.31).

2.3.2 Diversity of connectivity.

As independent variable, diversity of connectivity was measured by asking respondents if they connected to the internet using the following:

  • personal mobile broadband;

  • mobile data;

  • free data;

  • shared Wi-Fi;

  • Wi-Fi from private establishment;

  • Wi-Fi of the government; and

  • DSL.

Answers were added to operationalize diversity of connectivity, such that, higher scores indicate connection to more access points (0 = did not connect to any access point, 7 = connected to all access points). The reported mean score for diversity of connectivity is 2.85 (SD = 1.78).

2.3.3 Information literacy.

As mediating variable, information literacy was measured using six items drawn from the work of Bundy (2004, p. 3) and Catts and Lau (2008, p. 7). The participants were asked to report the extent of their agreement to the following statements:

  • “I understand the importance of correct information”.

  • “I know how to find the right information”.

  • “I know how to validate the credibility of information I find in the internet”.

  • “I store the information I find in an organized manner”.

  • “I can easily retrieve the information that I need”.

  • “I am able to put the information that I find in the internet to good use” (Cronbach α = 0.75) (1 = strongly disagree, 4 = strongly agree).

The reported mean score for information literacy is 2.70 (SD = 0.85).

2.3.4 Analytic strategy.

Together with basic descriptive statistics, a bootstrapping technique via SPSS macro PROCESS (Hayes, 2013, p. 1) with 5,000 bootstrap samples was used to offer evidence for the direct (H1) and indirect (H2) effects. To examine the indirect effect of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior via information literacy, information literacy was regressed onto diversity of connectivity (path a), online privacy behavior was regressed onto information literacy (path b), and diversity of connectivity (path c). The same technique was used to test for total and specific indirect effects (ab) of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior through information literacy. An indirect effect was significant if the lower and upper bound confidence interval did not contain zero (Preacher et al., 2007, p. 185, 192). The data for H1 and H2 were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics 20.

3. Results

3.1 H1: Direct influence of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior

Recall that H1 hypothesized that diversity of connectivity positively influences online privacy behavior. Using bootstrapping technique with 5,000 bootstrap samples, diversity of connectivity was found to positively influence online privacy behaviors among urban poor youth in Metro Manila (B = 0.0448, SE = 0.0195, CI [0.002, 0.2536]). Results found support for H1, that is, the more that the youth connect to the internet through diverse modalities, the more this fostered cautious online privacy behavior. Figure 1 shows the direct and indirect influence of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior.

3.2 H2: Indirect influence of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behaviors via information literacy

H2 hypothesized that diversity of connectivity indirectly influences online privacy behavior through information literacy. Information literacy was found to be a positive mediator between diversity of connectivity and online privacy behavior, as bias-corrected confidence interval for the indirect effect based on 5,000 bootstrap samples was entirely above zero (B = 0.2017, SE = 0.0362, CI [0.1336, 0.2043]). Results found support for H2, such that, diversity of connectivity indirectly influenced online privacy behaviors via information literacy.

To unpack the indirect influence, diversity of connectivity was found to positively influence information literacy (B = 0.1492, SE = 0.0263, CI [0.0974, 0.2010]), that is, diversified connection to the internet was likely to improve information literacy of urban poor youth in Manila. Likewise, information literacy was found to positively influence online privacy behaviors (B = 1.3516, SE = 0.0408, CI [1.2714, 1.4319]), such that, enhanced information literacy was likely to promote online privacy behavior.

4. Discussion

Situated in the context of youth in the Global South, this paper explored the direct and indirect influence of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior among urban poor youth in Manila. Urban poor youth with diversified connection to the internet engaged in online privacy behavior. In addition, information literacy explained how diversity of connectivity facilitated online privacy behavior. Altogether, this paper broadens the literature on social determinants of online privacy behavior, articulates the potential of information literacy for designing online privacy behavior program, and outlines implications to policy.

4.1 Problematizing online privacy behavior in the global South

By showing that urban poor youth in the Philippines use different strategies to protect themselves online, this paper broadens empirical evidence about the extent of online privacy behavior among youth in the Global South. In so doing, it extends the argument that the youth are interested and engaged in online privacy behavior (boyd and Hargittai, 2010, p. 53; Steeves and Regan, 2014, p. 299, 304). As illustrated in the context of urban poor youth in Manila, youth in the Global South are not apathetic about emerging privacy threats online. Although manifesting in various ways, online privacy behavior seems to be a shared concern among the youth (Agosto and Abbas, 2017, p. 1, 7; Steeves and Regan, 2014, p. 299, 304). In addition, this paper is one of the few to offer empirical evidence for the call to problematize online behavior as a consequence of digital inequality (van Dijk, 2006, p. 221, 230). For the youth in the Global South, or at least among the urban poor youth in Manila, online privacy behavior is related to diversity of connectivity. The capacity to protect themselves online depends on their social and material realities. Aside from empirical evidence for the extent to which online privacy behavior is socially determined, this paper shows that understanding digital practices of the youth in the Global South may contribute to theorizing about communication and technology.

The extent to which online privacy behavior is shaped by diversity of connectivity among urban poor youth in Manila is closer to social differentiation and dynamic approach than the disappearing digital divide approach (Peter and Valkenburg, 2006, pp. 293, 300, 302; van Dijk and Hacker, 2003, p. 321, 324). This paper echoes the argument that digital inequality continues to persist, manifests in various forms (Reddick and Boucher, 2002, p. 7; Roe, 2006, p. 219; Turow, 2003, p. 2, 9, 33-34), and impacts internet behaviors such as online privacy behavior. Similar to internet use among adolescents in The Netherlands (Peter and Valkenburg, 2006, p. 293, 300, 302), online privacy behavior among the urban poor youth in Manila is conditional on socio-economic realities. The diversity of connectivity represents an “emerging, socially-textured social differentiation” (Peter and Valkenburg, 2006, p. 295) among the urban poor youth residing in the margins of Manila. Next to extending social differentiation and dynamic approach, this paper partly addresses another limitation in the literature, that is, access is characterized as mainly physical (van Dijk, 2006, p. 313) and dichotomous (e.g. “have” versus “have nots”).

Compared with existing social differentiation and dynamic approach-informed literature, this paper is one of the few to frame online privacy behavior of youth in the Global South in terms of diversity of connectivity. Diversity of connectivity is critical for understanding the extent to which the youth may protect themselves online. Although problematizing access in terms of owning smartphones and other communication technology is informative, this paper encourages revisiting of “under-connectedness” (Katz, 2017, p. 242) – a recent but important concept in digital inequality literature. The emphasis on diversity of connectivity advances the literature by recognizing that the technical dimension of digital inequality is as important as its physical counterpart (i.e. access to the material artifact). In addition, it challenges the widespread belief that connection to the internet is characterized as an exclusive or zero-sum game. Urban poor youth in Manila do not merely rely only on one access point but rather, connect to the internet using personal mobile broadband, mobile data, free data, shared Wi-Fi, private establishment Wi-Fi, government Wi-Fi and DSL. As this paper has shown, the more the youth are connected to the internet through diverse modalities, the more this fosters cautious online privacy behavior.

4.2 Linking diversity of connectivity and positive online behavior

This paper has shown direct effects of diversity of connectivity on information literacy and information literacy on online privacy behavior.

In so doing, it expands available empirical evidence in the literature along several directions. First, diversified connectivity was likely to heighten internet knowledge and competency – a finding similar to other youth populations (de Haan, 2004, p. 66, 84). Consistent with the social background hypothesis (de Haan, 2004, p. 76), day-to-day experiences with connecting to the internet using different access points may have afforded urban poor youth with knowledge and competency to manage online information (Bundy, 2004, p. 3; Catts and Lau, 2008, p. 7). Similar to Reddick and Boucher (2002, p. 37), diversified connection makes critical online information knowledge and skill available and accessible for urban poor youth. Second, heightened internet knowledge and competency was likely to bring about online behavior which is also shared by an older American population (Freese et al., 2006, p. 236, 246). Aligned with the cognition resource argument (Freese et al., 2006, p. 236, 246), differences in online privacy behavior may result from the extent of basic know-how of navigating online information. Situated between poverty and urbanization in cities of the Global South, the youth are constantly negotiating ways not just to connect to the internet but also to acquire digital skills necessary for protective online behaviors.

To date, this paper is one of the few to extend the findings of Park (2013, p. 215, 230, 233) and Turow (2003, p. 4, 33-34) about the youth in the Global South. It shows that diversity of connectivity is connected to information literacy which is critical for facilitating online preventive behaviors among urban poor youth. As a result, it extends the heuristic value of second-level digital divide (Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6, 40-41) in terms of context, concept, and mechanism. First, second-level digital divide (Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6, 40-41) may help explain differential internet behaviors at least among the urban poor youth in Manila. This paper offers additional warrant to study online privacy behavior among children and adolescents. In addition, second-level digital divide (Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6, 40-41) may be extended to include more specific concepts such as online privacy behavior. As shown among the urban poor youth in Manila, differences in acting on online privacy is influenced by online skill and competency as much as access. This is important given the ongoing emphasis on online data privacy as children’s right (Brown and Pecora, 2014, p. 201). Finally, second-level digital divide (Hargittai, 2002, p. 2, 6, 40-41) may be explained by relying on specific mechanisms such as information literacy. As found among urban poor youth in Manila, information literacy may help explain further how diversity of connectivity may exert influence on online privacy behavior. Overall, this paper engages with the literature by arguing that diversity of connectivity affords youth in the Global South resources such as knowledge to protect themselves online.

4.3 Online privacy policy/framework implications in the global South

This paper attempts to participate in conversations about the link between infrastructure (i.e. nature and context of internet connectivity) and online privacy policy. To illustrate, Park (2011) recommended a three-pronged action that the Federal Trade Commission in the USA may adopt to promote online privacy. Given that the connection through multiple internet access points has been found to facilitate online privacy among youth, this paper encourages a rethinking of online privacy policy or framework in the Global South. For instance, the Philippines enacted Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 to establish the National Privacy Commission (established only in March 2016) with the mandate of adhering to international standards of handling privacy issues and violations (Data Privacy Act of 2012, pp. 6-10). This law focuses on clarifying the obligations of persons or entities involved in personal information processing and setting in place mechanisms to prohibit the inadvertent collection of data and for the protection of any harvested data (Data Privacy Act of 2012, pp. 4-5). It is apparent that the Philippines’s privacy management program gives emphasis on the safety and protection of data in personal and organizational computing systems under information collection, aggregation, and breach of confidentiality – and the responsibility of entities involved in data collection and aggregation. A rethinking of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 could also consider the mechanisms and practices underlying people’s online privacy behaviors and the conditions influencing their capacity to adopt online privacy protection behaviors, particularly for the youth who are one of the most active internet users.

5. Limitations and conclusions

While this paper advanced the need for theorizing technology use and access in the Global South, it has contextual, conceptual and methodological limitations that need to be articulated. First, the Philippines only provides a case for illustrating the extent to which structures are critical for technology access and use among the youth. Arguing for a heterogeneous Global South, future research in other countries with growing urban youth population is needed. This is important because the Global South has different cultures and online privacy behaviors may likely differ. Second, online privacy behavior is just one of the many online behaviors which youth may engage in. Other equally important protective online behaviors that may relate to structure warrant attention. Third, it would be of value, given the notable research focus on online privacy behavior and parental mediation in North America and Europe (Livingstone and Helsper, 2013, p. 7; Steeves and Regan, 2014, pp. 303-305), to understand the interplay between technological structures and parental and community mediation in facilitating literacy and online privacy behavior in the economic margins, especially in slum communities where communitarian values appear to be strong. Fourth, data were collected using cross-sectional interview survey, such that, argument for causality is difficult, if not impossible. To add, information literacy was self-reported and future efforts may also include true-false measures. While limited and tentative, this paper has attempted to show an interplay between the nature of internet experience and literacy and its consequence on online privacy behavior of a relatively understudied population – internet users in the margins.

Figures

Direct and indirect influence of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior

Figure 1.

Direct and indirect influence of diversity of connectivity on online privacy behavior

Profile of respondents (n = 300)

Variable M (SD) (%)
Age (years) 17.82 (3.02)
Sex
Female 37.7
Male 59.3
LGBTQi 3
Civil status
Single 97
Married 1.7
Separated 1
Currently studying
Yes 61.7
No 38.3
Current educational level
Elementary 1.3
Highschool 43.7
Vocational 2
College 14
Graduate 0.3

References

Agosto, D.E. and Abbas, J. (2017), “Don’t be dumb – that’s the rule I try to live by: a closer look at older teens’ online privacy and safety attitudes”, New Media and Society, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 347-365, doi: 10.1177/1461444815606121.

Alper, M., Katz, V.S. and Clark, L.S. (2016), “Researching children, intersectionality, and diversity in the digital age”, Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 107-114, doi: 10.1080/17482798.2015.1121886.

Arora, P. (2017), “Are the global digital cultures?”, 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, San Diego, 25-29 May 2017.

Bellman, S., Johnson, E., Kobrin, S. and Lohse, G. (2004), “International differences in information privacy concerns: a global survey of consumers”, Information Society, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 313-324, doi: 10.1080/01972240490507956.

boyd, D. (2008), “Facebook’s privacy trainwreck: exposure, invasion, and social convergence”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 13-20, doi: 10.1177/1354856507084416.

boyd, D. and Hargittai, E. (2010), “Facebook privacy settings: who cares?”, First Monday, Vol. 15 No. 8, available at: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/3086/2589 (accessed 16 October 2017).

Brown, D.H. and Pecora, N. (2014), “Online data privacy as a children’s media right: toward global policy principles”, Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 201-207, doi: 10.1080/17482798.2014.893756.

Bundy, A. (2004), Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: Principles, Standards and Practice, Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy, Adelaide, available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.98.3489&rep=rep1&type=pdf (accessed 16 October 2017).

Catts, R. and Lau, J. (2008), Towards Information Literacy Indicators, UNESCO, Paris, available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001587/158723e.pdf (accessed 16 October 2017).

Chakraborty, R., Vishik, C. and Rao, H.R. (2013), “Privacy preserving actions of older adults on social media: exploring the behavior of opting out of information sharing”, Decision Support Systems, Vol. 55 No. 4, pp. 948-956, available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2013.01.004

Cho, H. (2014), “Determinants of behavioral responses to online privacy: the effects of concern, risk beliefs, self-efficacy, and communication sources on self-protection strategies”, Journal of Information Privacy and Security, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 3-27, doi: 10.1080/15536548.2010.10855879.

Cho, H., Rivera-Sanchez, M. and Lim, S.S. (2009), “A multinational study on online privacy: global concerns and local responses”, New Media and Society, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 395-416, available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444808101618

Cohen, J.E. (2013), “What is privacy for”, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 126 No. 7, pp. 1904-1933.

Collste, G. (2008), “Global ICT-ethics: the case of privacy”, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 76-87.

Christofides, E., Muise, A. and Desmarais, S. (2012), “Risky disclosures on facebook: the effect of having a bad experience on online behavior”, Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 714-731, available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558411432635

De Haan, J. (2004), “A multifaceted dynamic model of the digital divide”, IT and Society, Vol. 1 No. 7, pp. 66-88, available at: file:///C:/Users/Commarts/Desktop/Amultifacetteddynamicmodelofthedigitaldivide_ITandSocietty_DeHaan.pdf (accessed 24 October 2017).

DiMaggio, P. and Hargittai, E. (2001), “From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality’: studying internet use as penetration increases”, working paper #15 of the Center for Arts and Cultural PolicyStudies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, Princeton, available at: www.princeton.edu/∼artspol/workpap/WP15%20-%20DiMaggio%2BHargittai.pdf (accessed 16 October).

Doyle, C. (1992), Outcome Measures for Information Literacy within the National Education Goals of 1990. Final Report to National Forum on Information Literacy. Summary of Findings, Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse, Washington, DC.

Dunn, H. (2010), “Information literacy and the digital divide: challenging e-exclusion in the global South”, in Ferro, E., Dwivedi, Y.K., Gil-Garcia, R. and Williams, M. (Eds), Handbook of Research on Overcoming Digital Divides: Constructing an Equitable and Competitive Information Society, IGI Global, Hershey, PA, pp. 326-345, available at: http://uwispace.sta.uwi.edu/dspace/handle/2139/43295

Freese, J., Rivas, S. and Hargittai, E. (2006), “Cognitive ability and Internet use among older adults”, Poetics, Vol. 34 Nos 4/5, pp. 236-249, available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2006.05.008

Gow, G.A. (2005), “Information privacy and mobile phones”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 76-87, available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/135485650501100208

Hargittai, E. (2002), “Second-level digital divide: differences in people’s online skills”, Vol. 7 No. 4, First Monday, available at: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/942/864 (accessed 17 October 2017).

Hayes, A. (2013), “The PROCESS macro for SPSS and SAS”, available at: www.processmacro.org/ (accessed 13 June 2015).

Katz, V.S. (2017), “What it means to be ‘under-connected’ in lower-income families”, Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 241-244, available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2017.1305602

Lenhart, A. and Horrigan, J.B. (2003), “Re-visualizing the digital divide as a digital spectrum”, IT and Society, Vol. 1 No. 5, pp. 23-39.

Livingstone, S. and Bulger, M. (2014), “A global research agenda for children’s rights in the digital age”, Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 317-335, doi: 10.1080/17482798.2014.961496.

Livingstone, S. and Helsper, E.J. (2013), “Children, internet and risk in comparative perspective”, Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 1-8, doi: 10.1080/17482798.2012.739751.

Livingstone, S. (2008), “Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression”, New Media and Society, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 393-411.

Marwick, A.E. and boyd, D. (2014), “Networked privacy: how teenagers negotiate context in social media”, New Media and Society, Vol. 16 No. 7, pp. 1051-1067, doi: 10.1177/1461444814543995.

Mathur, O.P. (2013), Urban Poverty in Asia, Asian Development Bank, Mandaluyong.

Park, Y.J. (2011), “Provision of internet privacy and market conditions: an empirical analysis”, Telecommunications Policy, Vol. 35 No. 7, pp. 650-662, available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.telpol.2011.06.003

Park, Y.J. (2013), “Digital literacy and privacy behavior online”, Communication Research, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 215-236, doi: 10.1177/0093650211418338.

Park, Y.J., Campbell, S.W. and Kwak, N. (2012), “Affect, cognition and reward: predictors of privacy protection online”, Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 1019-1027, doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.01.004.

Peter, J. and Valkenburg, P.M. (2006), “Adolescents’ internet use: testing the ‘disappearing digital divide’ versus the ‘emerging digital differentiation’ approach”, Poetics, Vol. 34 Nos 4/5, pp. 293-305, doi: 10.1016/j.poetic.2006.05.005.

Portus, L. (2008), “How the urban poor acquire and give meaning to the mobile phone”, in Katz J (Ed.), Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 105-118.

Preacher, K.J., Rucker, D.D. and Hayes, A.F. (2007), “Assessing moderated mediation hypotheses: theory, methods, and prescriptions”, Multivariate Behavioral Research, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 185-227, doi: 10.1080/00273170701341316.

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010), “Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: understanding privacy in the age of facebook”, First Monday, Vol. 15 No. 1, doi: 10.5210/fm.v15i1.2775.

Reddick, A. and Boucher, C. (2002), “Tracking the dual digital divide”, available at: www.ekospolitics.com/articles/dualdigitaldivide.pdf (accessed 16 October 2017).

Roe, K. (2006), “The digital divide in the twenty-first century: an introduction”, Poetics, Vol. 34 Nos 4/5, pp. 219-220, doi: 10.1016/j.poetic.2006.05.006.

Singh, T. and Hill, M.E. (2003), “Consumer privacy and the internet in Europe: a view from Germany”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 634-651.

Solove, D. (2008), Understanding Privacy, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Soriano, C.R. and Cao, R. (2017), “Of owned, shared, and public access ICTs: constructs of privacy and publicness in marginal spaces”, in Telleria, A.S. (Ed.), Between the Public and Private in Mobile Communication, Routledge, New York, NY and Oxford, pp. 77-98.

Steeves, V. and Regan, P. (2014), “Young people online and the social value of privacy”, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 298-313.

Turow, J. (2003), “Americans and online privacy: the system is broken”, available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/33d6/8c6faa315a5775bbd862498200335dd45264.pdf (accessed 15 October 2017).

United Nations Children’s Fund and Philippine Statistics Authority (2015), “Child poverty in the Philippines”, available at: www.unicef.org/philippines/ChildPovertyinthePhilippines_web.pdf (accessed 18 March 2018).

van Dijk, J.A.G.M. (2006), “Digital divide research, achievements and shortcomings”, Poetics, Vol. 34 Nos 4/5, pp. 221-235, doi: 10.1016/j.poetic.2006.05.004.

van Dijk, J.A.G.M. and Hacker, K. (2003), “The digital divide as a complex and dynamic phenomenon”, The Information Society, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 315-326, doi: 10.1080/01972240390227895.

Westin, A.F. (2003), “Social and political dimensions of privacy”, Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 59 No. 2, pp. 431-453, available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4560.00072 (accessed 17 March 2018).

Youn, S. (2005), “Teenagers’ perceptions of online privacy and coping behaviors: a risk-benefit appraisal approach”, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Vol. 49 No. 1, pp. 86-110, doi: 10.1207/s15506878jobem4901_6.

Further reading

Agra, S.S. and Martínez-Suárez, Y. (2015), “Nomadism and intermittent ubiquity in ‘off the grid’ shuar people”, Communication and Society, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 87-107, doi: 10.15581/003.28.4.87-107.

Republic of the Philippines (2012), “Republic act no. 10107 or the data privacy act of 2012”, available at: https://privacy.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/DPA-of-2012.pdf (accessed 4 August 2018).

Westin, A.F. (1967), Privacy and Freedom, Athenaeum Publishers, New York, NY.

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support of De La Salle University through a Challenge Grant (#500-458) titled “Social ecology of internet use by youth in slums: Piloting an info-literacy pisonet” project. They are likewise thankful to Mr Ruepert Jiel Cao for his research assistance.

Corresponding author

Jan Michael Alexandre Cortez Bernadas can be contacted at: jan.bernadas@dlsu.edu.ph