"Privacy is not for me, it's for those rich women": Performative Privacy Practices on Mobile Phones by Women in South Asia


Nithya Sambasivan and Garen Checkley, Google; Amna Batool, Information Technology University; Nova Ahmed, North South University; David Nemer, University of Kentucky; Laura Sanely Gaytán-Lugo, Universidad de Colima; Tara Matthews, Independent Researcher; Sunny Consolvo and Elizabeth Churchill, Google
Awarded the IAPP SOUPS Privacy Award!


Women in South Asian own fewer personal devices like laptops and phones than women elsewhere in the world. Further, cultural expectations dictate that they should share mobile phones with family members and that their digital activities be open to scrutiny by family members. In this paper, we report on a qualitative study conducted in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh about how women perceive, manage, and control their personal privacy on shared phones. We describe a set of five performative practices our participants employed to maintain individuality and privacy, despite frequent borrowing and monitoring of their devices by family and social relations. These practices involved management of phone and app locks, content deletion, technology avoidance, and use of private modes. We present design opportunities for maintaining privacy on shared devices that are mindful of the social norms and values in the South Asian countries studied, including to improve discovery of privacy controls, offer content hiding, and provide algorithmic understanding of multiple-user use cases. Our suggestions have implications for enhancing the agency of user populations whose social norms shape their phone use.

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@inproceedings {219427,
author = {Nithya Sambasivan and Garen Checkley and Amna Batool and Nova Ahmed and David Nemer and Laura Sanely Gayt{\'a}n-Lugo and Tara Matthews and Sunny Consolvo and Elizabeth Churchill},
title = {"Privacy is not for me, it{\textquoteright}s for those rich women": Performative Privacy Practices on Mobile Phones by Women in South Asia},
booktitle = {Fourteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2018)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-939133-10-6},
address = {Baltimore, MD},
pages = {127--142},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/soups2018/presentation/sambasivan},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug