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Title: An analysis of the relationship between individuals' perceptions of privacy and mobile phone location data : a grounded theory study
Author: Gorra, Andrea
Awarding Body: Leeds Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Leeds Beckett University
Date of Award: 2007
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The mobile phone is a ubiquitous tool in today’s society, a daily companion for the majority of British citizens. The ability to trace a mobile phone’s geographic position at all times via mobile phone networks generates potentially sensitive data that can be stored and shared for significant lengths of time, particularly for the purpose of crime and terrorism investigations. This thesis examines the implications of the storage and use of mobile phone location data on individuals’ perceptions of privacy. The grounded theory methodology has been used to illustrate patterns and themes that are useful in understanding the broader discourses concerning location data relating to privacy, technology and policy-setting. The main contribution of this thesis is the development of a substantive theory grounded in empirical data from interviews, mobile phone location tracking and a survey. This theory is specific to a particular area, as it maps the relationship between mobile phone location data and perceptions of privacy within the UK. The theory confirms some arguments in the literature that argue that the concept of privacy is changing with individuals' increased dependence on electronic communications technologies in day-to-day life. However, whilst individuals tend to hold a rather traditional picture of privacy, not influenced by technology and solely related to their own personal lives, scholars paint a picture of privacy that is affected by technology and relates to society as a whole. Digital mass data collections, such as communications data retention, are not perceived as privacy invasive by individuals. Mobile phone location data is not seen as related to a citizen's daily life but instead primarily as a crime investigation tool. A recognition and understanding of the divergence between the perceptions and definitions of privacy between individuals and the academic literature in relation to mobile phone location data is of relevance, as it should impact on future policies regulating the gathering, storage and analysis of personal data.
Supervisor: Bryant, A. ; Halpin, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available