The Downside of Digital Inclusion: Expectations and Experiences of Privacy and Surveillance among Marginal Internet Users

Gangadharan, Seeta Peña
New Media & Society

Increasing broadband adoption among members of underserved populations remains a high priority among policymakers, advocates, corporations, and affected communities. But questions about the risks entailed in the flow of personal information are beginning to surface and shine light on the tension between broadband’s benefits and harms. This article examines broadband adoption programs at community-based and public institutions in the United States in order to understand the ways in which privacy and surveillance issues emerge and are engaged in these settings. While adults who enroll in introductory digital literacy classes and access the Internet at public terminals feel optimistic about broadband “opportunities,” they encounter “privacy-poor, surveillance-rich” broadband. Users experience myriad anxieties, while having few meaningful options to meet their concerns.