Improving privacy choice through design: How designing for reflection could support privacy self-management

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In today’s society online privacy is primarily regulated by two main regulatory systems: (command-and-control) law and notice and consent (i.e., agreeing to terms of agreement and privacy policies). Both systems prohibit reflection on privacy issues from the public at large and restrict the privacy debate to the legal and regulatory domains. However, from a socio-ethical standpoint, the general public needs to be included in the privacy debate in order to make well-informed decisions and contribute to the law-making process. Therefore, we argue that privacy regulation must shift from a purely legal debate and simple one-time yes/no decisions by ‘data subjects’ to public (debate and) awareness and continuous reflection on privacy and privacy decisions by users of IT systems and services. In order to allow for this reflective thinking, individuals need to (1) understand what is at stake when interacting with digital technology; (2) have the ability to reflect on the consequences of their privacy decisions; and (3) have meaningful controls to express their privacy preferences. Together, these three factors could provide for knowledge, evaluation and choice within the context of online privacy. In this paper, we elaborate on these factors and provide a design-for-privacy model that introduces friction as a central design concept that stimulates reflective thinking and thus restores the privacy debate within the public arena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFirst Monday
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • privacy
  • reflection
  • privacy self-management
  • design


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