Preserving Privacy in Awareness Systems
Increasingly, software development teams comprise members who are geographically distributed across buildings, cities, countries or even continents. In order to raise the efficiency and effectiveness of such collaboration, team members need timely and context-specific information about the various activities of the other members. This information can be utilized to (re)schedule ones own work activities, to determine who needs to be consulted and whether they are available, and it also facilitates informal communication among team members (Dourish & Bellotti, 1992; Herbsleb et. al., 2000). However, this need for information about the activities, work and routines of team members is quite frequently at odds with the individual needs and desires for privacy, even within teams of peers. This leads to a tension between awareness and privacy in the context of collaborative work. Many suspect that the promise of collaborative technologies that increase group awareness and communication is often overshadowed by hidden privacy concerns, which are inherent to such systems. This chapter discusses various factors and principles that influence privacy management, as a first step toward informing design of socio-technical solutions to alleviate these tensions. For the discussion, we have used Instant Messaging (IM) as an example of an awareness technology for collaborative work.