Congratulations to lab member, Hongyu Zhang, who recently received an Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Digital Geography Specialty Group at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Honolulu, HI.  The title of Hongyu’s dissertation is “Place-based Privacy: Understanding attitudes and behaviours across China and beyond.”

Abstract: The emergence of the World Wide Web has eroded traditional boundaries, connecting individuals globally while giving rise to intricate privacy concerns. Within this context, the concept of geoprivacy takes centre stage, highlighting the control of personal location information flow and is influenced by dynamic factors such as time, culture, demographics, and trust. This dissertation posits geoprivacy as a social form that underpins fundamental aspects of social interaction rather than a unilateral desire for isolation from society. The need for location sharing by individuals necessitates a rehumanized, context-dependent exploration, as cultural norms and personal characteristics can lead to varying levels of geoprivacy expectations. Therefore, a human-centred approach is adopted to investigate user responses to regulatory mandates and probe geoprivacy concerns within China and beyond. The first manuscript clarifies the uniqueness of geoprivacy, establishing a humanistic perspective to counteract the dehumanizing effects of datafication and recognize the spatial variations of geoprivacy attitudes. The subsequent manuscript dismantles the ethnocentric view of geoprivacy. Through the analysis of social media data, the study unveils the specific landscape of geoprivacy attitudes within the Confucian realm and reiterates the importance of cultural distinctions in privacy studies. The third manuscript takes a step further by re-examining the relationship between knowledge, attitude, and behaviour, providing deeper contextual insights into understanding geoprivacy behaviours in computer-mediated environments. By employing data collected from an online survey, the study discovers gender disparities and regional divergences in the cognitive perspective of geoprivacy. In its entirety, the dissertation synthesizes these contexts into place-based privacy, wherein geographical information becomes a pivotal determinant and extension of an individual’s privacy attitudes. As both a humanistic and social concept, geoprivacy transcends mere degrees of anonymity in data disclosure. The empirical studies in this dissertation showcase the varying nature of geoprivacy perceptions even within the Chinese regions. These findings ultimately enrich the dialogue surrounding privacy, technology, and society, transforming geoprivacy from a self-reinforcing cycle of universal values into a diverse concept embraced by a broader population.