• Svetlana Smirnova


Self-tracking—the process of self-quantification for health and wellbeing via mobile applications and wearable devices—increasingly contributes to shaping individuals’ self-understanding, and delivering health and wellness services. At the same time, continuous collection of fine-grained health data presents new challenges for informational privacy. This chapter focuses on examining the attitudes of self-quantifiers to privacy. Empirically, the chapter draws on a dataset consisting of month-long diaries and interviews with 45 self-quantifiers. The findings show that attitudes to informational privacy in the context of tracking fall into three categories: low privacy concerns, due to self-tracking being viewed as a trade-off for services; mixed privacy concerns that stem from limited recognition of the value of personal data and its accumulation; and, active concern and resistance. While the level of concern varies, informational privacy of self-tracked data matters to self-quantifiers across the spectrum. At the same time, it is hard for participants to verbalize what precisely they are concerned about. A concept of “unease” most accurately describes users” views on privacy, which leads to a new direction in studying informational privacy. Given that self-tracking relies heavily on communication infrastructure to generate mediated health insight, scholars of communication and health are uniquely positioned to evaluate these practices of self-quantification.


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