Exploring Role of Media Convergence in Intrusion of Privacy: Experiences of Regular Internet Users in Nairobi City County, Kenya
Nancy Wanjiru, Kungu
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Media convergence has triggered unlimited production and consumption of the Internet content by embracing novel smart devices and interactive tools that permit users, including audiences, to create and to share massive information on the cyberspaces; hence, raising unprecedented online privacy concerns. This study therefore explored role of media convergence in intrusion of online privacy based on the experiences of regular Internet users in Nairobi City County in Kenya. The theoretical framework adopted in the study comprised the Theory of Media Convergence by Henry Jenkins and the Privacy Theory of James Moor. The study used four FGDs drawn from four selected universities in Nairobi City County and eight key expert interviewees from government organizations related to communication. FGD discussion and Interview guides were used in data collection. Data was analyzed qualitatively based on related thematic concepts. Findings depicted a proliferation of unrestricted user-generated information where online players, who are not journalists, were constantly creating and distributing information of private nature, news of shock, acts of violence, crime, sexual assault, and messages of bereavement and grief. Infringement issues isolated by the key expert respondents included harvesting of personal data, disclosure of information, data breach, identity theft, impersonation, and fake news. Susceptibility of social sites to cyber-attacks, the proliferation of unregulated social sites, user vulnerability, Internet tracking tools, Internet penetration, searchability, and online anonymity were deemed to challenge regulation of the IP. The study concluded that: Internet users were divulging vast amounts of private information on the IP; privacy violations were being witnessed and; an array of mitigation strategies was adopted including legislation and policy-making, enforcement of compliance, incidents response, capacity building, consumer education and outreach programmes. The study made the following recommendations: media regulation and policy-making to continually focus on reviewing of cyber regulatory environment; to consider making a law that would, primarily, focus on online privacy; to explore the possibility of collaborations among nations in dealing with Internet violations; to encourage data minimization and; to consider extending consumer outreach programmes to university students. Recommendations made for further research include: investigating implications of privacy infringements on the cyberspaces and; exploring user-awareness of cyber privacy risks.