Pricey privacy: Framing the economy of information in the digital age

Paper by Federica Fornaciari in FirstMonday: “As new information technologies become ubiquitous, individuals are often prompted rethinking disclosure. Available media narratives may influence one’s understanding of the benefits and costs related to sharing personal information. This study, guided by frame theory, undertakes a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of media discourse developed to discuss the privacy concerns related to the corporate collection and trade of personal information. The aim is to investigate the frames — the central organizing ideas — used in the media to discuss such an important aspect of the economics of personal data. The CDA explored 130 articles published in the New York Times between 2000 and 2012. Findings reveal that the articles utilized four frames: confusion and lack of transparency, justification and private interests, law and self-regulation, and commodification of information. Articles used episodic framing often discussing specific instances of infringements rather than broader thematic accounts. Media coverage tended to frame personal information as a commodity that may be traded, rather than as a fundamental value.”