Drawing on the theories of Altman who, they propose that privacy is a constant process of the negotiation of boundaries. This, they see, is different to other notions of privacy which are created through a notion of personal withdrawal. Altman, they suggest, proposes that privacy is not static but people operate on a spectrum of “openness” and “closedness” and this depends on the context and the desirability of the ends that are being sought.
They posit three boundaries that are in constant tension: Disclosure (what is disclosed), Identity (details about the person/organisation), and Temporality (associated with time).
They argue that to live in the modern world requires us to disclose something of ourselves to the public and they point out that some people utilise disclosure as a way of limiting access of others to the self and they do this through the creation of online personae that determines the information they chose to release.
“Active participation in the networked world requires disclosure of information simply to be a part of it. To purchase goods, we make ourselves visible in public space;
in exchange for the convenience of shopping on-line, we choose to disclose personal identity information for transactional purposes.”
They point out that defining the boundaries of the self online is difficult indeed and involves technologies that are poor at assisting this process. The permanence of information, the uncertainty that is created in the creation of the “other” and the inability to know what others are doing with the personal information we send makes this a problematic boundary creation process.
We act to manage our current privacy in accord with our past experiences and the future concerns or benefits we foresee as a result of our actions today.
They conclude by reinforcing that privacy is not static but rather a “dynamic response to circumstances” and the ongoing negotiation of boundaries. It is a balancing of tensions.