The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness of the differences in European and American perspectives on privacy and to question whether most users of web services, such as Facebook, are equipped with the proper level of media literacy skills in order to manage the responsibility for their own privacy.
Discussion of theoretical concepts on privacy, from the perspectives of both law and social sciences.
Promoting government responsibility for the privacy of individual citizens seems problematic in an online context, as it threatens to open the door to censorship. One should wonder whether citizens need protection from what is perceived as infringement to the rights of privacy, while these citizens are actually consumers, using commercially provided services with policies that they have agreed to. The European Commission has been following closely what is happening to personal data online. Several forms of legislation have been brought into force aiming to enhance the protection of personal data of European citizens. This European protectionism often clashes with the privacy policies of, largely American, commercial organisations such as Facebook and Google.
Further research should be carried out on whether the general user is media literate enough to be able to mitigate their privacy online. Legislators are focussed on handing responsibilities to the users themselves, however users could benefit from a more paternalistic approach.
This paper combines perspectives on online privacy from the multi‐disciplinary perspectives of law and social sciences. These two viewpoints are not often combined in critical literature. This paper serves as a discussion piece for future research and media literacy programs in higher education.
Nina, Ñ. and Boers, R. (2013), "Disliking the like: User policy‐change and perception of the internet as a democratic medium", New Library World, Vol. 114 No. 7/8, pp. 319-325. https://doi.org/10.1108/NLW-12-2012-0091
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