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The Shoebox and the Safe: When Once-Personal Information Changes Hands

Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Personal Information Management at CSCW 2012


This paper presents several examples where one user’s personal information is accessed by another, without the consent of the owner, or without the capability of the owner to consent to such sharing. While intentional sharing of information at home as well as at work has been studied in detail, there is extremely limited understanding about the practices, dimensions and models of unintentional sharing. Laws and policies that were developed with paper and other nondigital archives in mind are being found to be inadequate for addressing the challenges that digital personal information brings. Worse, those laws are being enforced in inconsistent ways, prompting lawsuits. Posthumously shared information brings up questions that have not been addressed before. This paper starts by noting examples of posthumous sharing and sharing without consent, proposes models and dimensions for understanding it, and concludes by proposing research questions that need to be addressed by the wider PIM community.