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“To what extent and type of data or information about ourselves are we willing to give and for what reasons.”

You will devise a specific research question that allows you to synthesize the ideas from across a number of the readings/topics and use these ideas to help you to explain some phenomenon in contemporary network culture that is of interest to you.

Different Platforms and Channels Used for Sharing Personal Data

In the recent era, with the advancement of digital technology, people are becoming keener to share personal data which is retained by a large group of third parties and it constitutes an inevitable asset for both the private organizations and the government. Past scholars have conducted the study on the willingness and the extent of sharing personal data by the global people and a question came into the scenario whether the data sharing can create public good or not. Thus, to evaluate the impact of data sharing, it is needed to identify which extent people willing to share data and associated motivators behind the data sharing. A range of debate was found and pro-social behaviour is identified as a parameter that describes the actions that benefit or harms the society and individual donor.

Worldwide demographic analysis indicated that people want to share personal data to promote themselves, the betterment of the future, receiving service facilities from different industries, or to help the overall society. Considering varied opinion and argumentative outcome of the past researchers the present essay focuses on a few research questions such as Why individual is willing to share personal data even when such a decision is jeopardizing their privacy? Which extent the people are willing to share personal data and what are the driving forces behind those actions? Are their evidence where data sharing overwhelms the privacy and security issues through potential benefit schemes? What could be the future trend of personal data sharing and the proposed vulnerability?

Keeping these questions into consideration, the present essay describes different platforms, data types and networking channels used by the people to share data and associated statistics to assess the potential future benefits vs. vulnerability. Based on these hypotheses, the essay would be concluded by providing some positive insight to mitigate the risk factors associated with personal willingness and the extent of data sharing across the global platform.

In order to better perceive the motivation of an individual to share personal data over a variety of medium, it is important to discuss the different medium themselves and the types of data shared through them. On a gross level, the platforms of data sharing can be segregated between online and paper. Most common among the online platform is the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ etc. People share personal information like their names, date of birth, phone numbers and emails along with pictures and videos of themselves. The volume of information populated on these media is immense and people often search for their preferred contents. Liu and Wang (2016) said that the history of such search processes themselves become the subject of analytics by the platforms to extract certain indirect behavioural information on the users. The second most frequently used channels are the e-commerce platforms. Retail e-commerce sales will contribute to almost 10% of total retail sales in Australia which is a substantial amount of growth considering the concerns of security over the platforms. Along with other personal information, these portals also store the physical address of the residence and credit or debit cards details. Similar information is also stored on the tour and hospitality booking portals as well. There also are portal where people share personal health-related data for a variety of reasons and may contain a combination of personal, personally identifiable, banking and physical or mental health information of an individual (Harmon and Chen, 2012). Personal information sharing over paper mostly falls under the domain of government departments. For various administrative and allied reasons, the Government agencies ask and store personal information of people of the country and the same has been performed through their portals. However, in most of the countries, this information finally ends up being stored over some digital medium to be at par with the global digitisation. These kind of data mostly comprise of all sorts of personal and personally identifiable information along with the biometric data of individuals.

Motivators behind Personal Data Sharing

Studies have suggested that the users of the online platforms have diverged understanding of the dangers, control and apparent benefits of personal information sharing. This scenario is becoming more complicated in online social media platforms, where every individual feels happy to share their data and associated activities. Limba and Šidlauskas (2018) suggested that the obvious attribute of information sharing on social media platforms is to increase the probability of getting identified. The willingness of people to share a vast extent of their everyday lives arises out of the perception that the internet is an extension of the real world and that these portals are just another form of social connections. The growth of the professional network is another motivating factor for an individual to share personal and professional achievements via social media platforms. The Communication Privacy Management Theory (CPM) suggests that disclosure of personal information is coordinated by an individual via privacy boundaries with third parties, derived from the perceived benefits and cost of sharing (Petronio, 2013). CPM theory also narrates that attributes like culture, gender, context, the motivating situation comes into play alongside the risk-benefit ratio while making the disclosures on e-commerce platforms. Surveys conducted on digital buyers of North America suggested that almost 80% of the respondents are willing to share personal information with a brand for the sake of personalised marketing deals. The ease of transaction and time-saving features of e-commerce also motivate people to ignore the possibility of privacy infringement of the personal and payment mechanism details on the platforms. On the other hand, Milan et al. (2015) argued, that users create boundaries while revealing their personal information during an online purchase or making tour reservations, which is largely steered by the trust on the website and past experience with different online platforms. The degree of the perceived risk is the determinant on how thick the boundary is.

Past studies on data donation have shown pro-social behaviour in people on the extent of sharing personal information. The underlying concept in such studies is that, aside from the objective factors of income, age or belief on a cause, people are driven by the desire to help others and get benefitted in the process. Bietz et al (2015) concluded that a majority of people are willing to donate personal data for research purposes if that leads to public good. However, the same study also deduced that the motivation of self-benefit can restrict individuals towards less likelihood of data sharing. On similar grounds of the benefit from the healthcare policies, it is apt to say that individuals share the personal health records on various portals since the provisions can be better managed via the Electronic Health Records (EHR). On many occasions, it has been seen that people are supportive of sharing anonymised EHR for the purpose of research and improve the treatment and healthcare facilities (Cole, 2013). However, people also believe that there exists a lack of awareness and transparency concerning the extent of the data usage which acts as a resistance. In this particular scenario, the data subject’s rights and interest over social benefits play an important role (Yan et al. 2018). Contrary to all the above discussions, sharing personal information via government portals can be view more like a compulsion rather than willingness. At the same time, Ioannidis (2016) argued that the general public holds trust while sharing personal information over various government agencies. Firstly because the various identity documents were generated via government controlled systems and secondly because the privacy and data protection acts are devised and regulated by the government bodies.

Implications of Personal Data Sharing

Sharing of personal information can invade the privacy of an individual and has been the matter of debate for concerns of misuse and data theft over the apparent benefits. There is evidence of some positive implications of such sharing. The CanTest project pioneered by the Cancer Research UK extensively utilised the patient information shared with healthcare providers like Public Health England, NHS services and Clinical Practices Research Datalink to provide more insights on the effectiveness of cancer research (Cancer Research UK, 2018). Portals like LinkedIn allow a user to share professional attainments and personal skills to increase their scope of employability. Recommender models based on demographics and purchase behaviour are used by online shopping companies to market targeted products and personalised offerings to customers that are often beneficial for them.

On the hind side, there are several infringement issues like the pro-Brexit campaigning by Cambridge Analytica, via Facebook by collecting personally identifiable information of almost 87 million users (Polanin and Terzian, 2018). Personal information including names, SSN, birth date and driving license numbers were stolen from the Equifax which were shared by consumers with the credit reporting company. The energy supplying company Alinta, Australia was fined when a number of customers signed up to the company’s portal via a third party without their consent violating the basic privacy concept. These examples showcase that there are pros and cons of personal information sharing via different media.

Regulations have been put in place in order to protect personal information privacy and data misuse in different countries. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) also applicable to the European Economic Area (EEA) is a major move by a government in this regards. It emphasizes the aspect of consent by individuals with an intelligible and easy to access form to provide personal information (Reijneveld, 2017). GDPR enforces the data controllers to confirm the purpose of the processed data. It also entitles the data subject with the right to be forgotten in case they wish to withdraw the consent. In line with the GDPR, the Data protection act 2018 was provisioned by the UK government which regulates the accumulation, storage and usage of the personal data and has superseded the Data Protection Act 1998 (Stevens, 2015). Similarly, the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 in Australia includes 10 National Privacy Principles that regulate the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by private sectors (Von Dietze and Allgrove, 2014). In addition, more laws concerning the individual data privacy and protection have been implemented across the different states at different times.

Regulations for Protecting Personal Data Privacy

In the age of digital transformation, sharing of information over various online channels is inevitable and is likely to grow in future. Choi et al. (2010) indicated that, due to the extensive interaction and dependence of these media with one another, the scope of information infringement and theft is likely to increase as well. However, with stricter regulations in place, the disclosure empowerment is likely to shift towards the consumer (Shang et al. 2017). In addition, concepts of privacy by design and ethical considerations will strengthen the online platforms to reconsider the security and data disclosure policies.


At the conclusion of the essay, it can be stated that the willingness and extent of personal data sharing over various medium, especially online are driven by factors of apparent personal and social benefits. Establishing connectivity and gathering information are among the major influence in this regards. Increasing the awareness of data security and privacy facets and enhancing user experience on the technological platforms and restricted use of user information can subside the resisting aspects. Employing robust security protocols can increase the trustworthiness of individual over data sharing, which is undeniable given the fact that online services are taking over the offline counterparts. In addition to the security and willingness factors, the current topic also encompasses extensive ethical considerations on whether or not people should share personal information.


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