Examining Power Dynamics and User Privacy in Smart Technology Use Among Jordanian Households


Wael Albayaydh and Ivan Flechais, University of Oxford

Distinguished Paper Award Winner


Smart technologies continue to raise concerns about privacy protection of both households and bystanders who may be targets of incidental or intentional monitoring. Domestic workers are an example of bystanders in smart homes who experience complex power dynamics and can be subjected to exploitative practices that are further facilitated through smart technology. Such power dynamics are rooted in complex social norms and customs, religious beliefs, and economics. While past research has focused on Western contexts to explore how smart technologies and power dynamics affect privacy of households and smart home bystanders, there is a limited understanding of the impact of such factors within non-Western contexts.

This paper presents the findings from 30 interviews with smart device users and bystanders (households, and domestic workers), policy makers, and human and civil rights activists to explore smart home power dynamics in the Muslim Arab Middle Eastern (MAME) context of Jordan. We uncover how asymmetric socio-economic power dynamics between households and domestic workers influence smart technology privacy concerns, practices, and rights perceptions. Drawing on the findings of this study, we present some recommendations for interventions to balance asymmetric power dynamics, to improve bystanders' agency and privacy protection, and to prevent technology exploitation.

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@inproceedings {291146,
author = {Wael Albayaydh and Ivan Flechais},
title = {Examining Power Dynamics and User Privacy in Smart Technology Use Among Jordanian Households},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {4643--4659},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity23/presentation/albayaydh},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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