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Privacy and the Media

Privacy and the Media

First Edition

March 2017 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Questions of privacy are critical to the study of contemporary media and society. When we’re more and more connected to devices and to content, it’s increasingly important to understand how information about ourselves is being collected, transmitted, processed, and mediated.

Privacy and the Media equips students to do just that, providing a comprehensive overview of both the theory and reality of privacy and the media in the 21st Century. Offering a rich overview of this crucial and topical relationship, author Andrew McStay:
  • Explores the foundational topics of journalism, the Snowden leaks, and encryption by companies such as Apple
  • Considers commercial applications including behavioural advertising, big data, algorithms, and the role of platforms such as Google and Facebook
  • Introduces the role of the body with discussions of emotion, wearable media, peer-based privacy, and sexting
  • Encourages students to put their understanding to work with suggestions for further research, challenging them to explore how privacy functions in practice
Privacy and the Media is not a polemic on privacy as "good" or "bad," but a call to assess the detail and the potential implications of contemporary media technologies and practices. It is essential reading for students and researchers of digital media, social media, digital politics, and the creative and cultural industries. 
1. Introduction
PART I: Journalism, Surveillance and Politics of Encryption
2. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear: myth and Western roots of privacy
3. Journalism: a complex relationship with privacy
4. The Snowden leaks: a call for better surveillance
5. Encryption: simultaneously public and private
PART II: Commercial dimensions of privacy and media
7. Behavioural and programmatic advertising: consent, data alienation and problems with Marx
8. The right to be forgotten: memory, deletion and expression
9. Big data: machine learning and the politics of algorithms
PART III: The role of the body
10. Empathic media: towards ubiquitous emotional intelligence
11. Re-introducing the Body: intimate and wearable media
12. Being young and social: inter-personal privacy and debunking seclusion
13. Sexting: exposure, protocol and collective privacy
14. Conclusion: what do media developments tell us about privacy?

Privacy and the Media is a thoughtful survey of the privacy landscape. McStay reviews the intricate tensions and seeming contradictions to offer an accessible book for anyone curious about the contemporary debates in privacy.

danah boyd
Microsoft Research

This pleasingly accessible book tackles all the major questions that arise in a world whose lifeblood is our personal information; liberty, choice, transparency, control. It goes to the “conceptual, ethical and legal heart of privacy”.  McStay argues that privacy is “not about isolation, going off-grid or being a digital hermit”. Rather, it is about managing our online lives and controlling how much others know about us. This book persuades me more than ever that privacy is a branch of ethics – the age-old relationship between the self and the other.

Privacy and the Media’ is not a set of neatly answered questions or defences of established positons. It is a series of embarkation points for further exploration of an increasingly critical area of study, with real-world implications for the nature of our ‘datafied’ selves.

The book will serve as a great introduction to informational privacy, not just for media studies students and privacy lawyers, but for any information rights professional needing a deeper understanding of the subject. 

Iain Bourne
Information Commissioner's Office

McStay’s great achievement here is to confront many of the pertinent and complex questions about media and privacy in a style that is both authoritative and easy to read. He provides an excellent overview of the perennial debates and considers the implications on privacy of an increasingly data-driven media environment. His book will prove an excellent companion for all students of this fascinating and crucial topic.

Mireille Hildebrandt
Vrije Universitet Brussel

The only book that addresses the full spectrum of the innovation-privacy dynamic, ranging from advertising to intelligence to wearables. It is both timely and necessary; essential reading.

Gus Hosein
Privacy International

Clearly and accessibly written, this book is a great resource for anyone interested in the broad range of ways in which privacy and contemporary media are entangled and in the big picture of privacy/media relations today. It challenges media studies to take privacy seriously as a media – and a mediation – issue. I will definitely be assigning it for my students.

Helen Kennedy
University of Sheffield

This is an easy to read, accessible text book that is aimed to tackle timely privacy concerns. The chapters are short, with pertinent examples that make the reading enjoyable. I teach from this book the issue of privacy and recommend other teachers to do the same.

I thank Sage for a book copy.

Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Politics & International Relations, Hull University
February 15, 2018

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 4: The Snowden Leaks

Andrew McStay

Andrew McStay is Professor of Digital Life at Bangor University, UK. His most recent book, Emotional AI: The Rise of Empathic Media, examines the impact of technologies that make use of data about affective and emotional life. Current projects include study of emotional AI, children and parents, and (separately) cross-cultural analysis of emotional AI in UK and Japan. Non-academic work includes IEEE membership (P7000/7014) and ongoing advising roles for start-ups, NGOs and policy bodies. He has also appeared and made submissions to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on the right to privacy in the digital age, the UK House... More About Author

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