Privacy Gradient: Understanding Web Browsing Privacy During Ad Hoc Co-Located Collaboration


Kirstie Hawkey
Kori Inkpen

Author Addresses: 

Faculty of Computer Science
Dalhousie University
6050 University Ave.
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
B3H 4R2



This research introduces the concept of privacy issues related to the incidental viewing of traces of previous activities during ad hoc co-located collaboration. Web browsers were used as the representative application in this research, as several of the convenience features record traces of previous web page visits. We introduce a 4-tier privacy gradient to allow study participants to classify privacy levels associated with their actual web browsing over the course of a week-long diary study. Results include analysis of the privacy comfort levels of individuals, their current privacy management strategies, their browsing behaviours, and their use of the privacy gradients. This initial exploratory study provides important insight that will guide the development of a privacy management system.

Tech Report Number: 
Report Date: 
September 13, 2004
PDF icon CS-2004-18.pdf3.47 MB