Information Privacy and Emerging Technologies in the UAE: Current State and Research Directions

Information Privacy and Emerging Technologies in the UAE: Current State and Research Directions

Dimitrios Xanthidis, Christos Manolas, Ourania Koutzampasopoulou Xanthidou, Han-I Wang
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJT.2020070101
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The rapid developments of emerging technologies, including Big Data, Cloud Computing, and Internet of Things, are causing many societies to struggle whilst trying to keep up with, and adopt them. As a consequence, serious concerns and issues are being raised. The threat to personal information privacy is one of these issues. This review paper briefly introduces the aforementioned technologies and explores concepts related to concerns on information privacy and disclosure in the U.A.E. in the context of these technologies. In addition, related research themes that could be interesting to explore are identified, with a focus on the local environment.
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In Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, the right to personal privacy is recognized in the following statement:

“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks” (National Commissions for UNESCO, 2010, Jan. 4).

In addition to the, easier to identify, implications of the above in a broader ethical and social context, the advent of information technology and digital communications has added new concerns and issues, specifically related to information privacy. This, relatively new, concept has attracted widespread attention in the recent years, partially due to the rapid increase of the amount of information being gathered and published over the Internet.

Although the term information privacy may be difficult to define explicitly, according to Son and Kim, it “refers to an individual’s ability to control when, how, and to what extent his or her personal information is communicated to others” (Son & Kim, 2008). This is also echoed on Such and Criado’s view that “privacy is not just about what you reveal about yourself; it is also about what others reveal about you” (Such & Criado, 2018). At the same time, Hong and Thong (2013) approach information privacy from a more pragmatic angle by stating that it is “the privacy of personal information and usually related to personal data stored on a computer”. Irrespectively of the perspective one adopts to define it, what is important to note in the context of this study is that most definitions underline the individual’s right to keep personal information outside the public domain. As such, it can be claimed that this right is expected to be protected by law from unauthorized access, irrespectively of whether this relates to the physical or digital domain. In this context, it may be useful to attempt a brief distinction between the two definitions of privacy:

  • Physical Privacy: The perspective that deals with the physical access to a person’s property and its surroundings (H. J. Smith, Dinev, & Xu, 2011).

  • Information Privacy: The perspective that addresses the access to information that can specifically identify a particular individual and may, or may not, be available online.

Between the two, it appears that most researchers and scholars are currently concerned with information privacy. An apparent reason for this is the mass collection of user data through online media and electronic sources. Such data collection includes, but is not limited to, customer data, student data, or public records. More specifically, while millions of users share personal information online on a daily basis, they are largely unaware of the level of access third parties have to their data, and what they do with it (Zaeem, German, & Barber, 2018). It must be noted here that most companies nowadays have rather transparent privacy policies that can be easily accessed online. However, the question of how far they are willing, or allowed, to go to collect personal data without informing their customers remains largely unanswered. Indeed, research shows an increasing public concern about how companies and authorities handle the personal data they gather (Ipsos, 2019, Jan. 25). Such concerns are also reflected in relevant statements the United Nations General Assembly Resolution and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which on 18 December 2013 reaffirmed the right to privacy in the digital age, and demanded that “working of State Surveillance be subject to legality through clear and precise law, which law must look to safeguard the right to privacy”.

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