Digital Earth Ethics

P.Y. Georgiadou*, O. Kounadi, R.A. de By

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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Digital Earth scholars have recently argued for a code of ethics to protect individuals’ location privacy and human dignity. In this chapter, we contribute to the debate in two ways. First, we focus on (geo)privacy because information about an individual’s location is substantially different from other personal information. The compound word (geo)privacy suggests that location can be inferred from people’s interests, activities, and sociodemographics, not only from traditional geographic coordinates. (Geo)privacy is a claim of individuals to determine for themselves when,how, and to what extent location information about them is communicated to others.Second, we take an interdisciplinary perspective. We draw from (geo)computing to describe the transformation of volunteered, observed, and inferred information and suggest privacy-preserving measures. We also draw from organization studies to dis-sect privacy into ideal types of social relationships and privacy-preserving strategies.We take the point of view of Alice, an individual ‘data subject’ encountered in data protection legislation, and suggest ways to account for privacy as a sociocultural phenomenon in the future. Although most of the discussion refers to the EU and the US, we provide a brief overview of data protection legislation on the African continent and in China as well as various global and regional ethics guidelines that are of very recent vintage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManual of Digital Earth
EditorsHuadong Guo, Michael F. Goodchild, Alessandro Annoni
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-32-9915-3
ISBN (Print)978-981-32-9914-6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019


  • Ethics
  • Geoprivacy
  • Spatial data
  • Inference attacks
  • Privacy-preserving measures


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