Privacy at the Margins| Privacy Versus Relatedness: Managing Device Use in Australia’s Remote Aboriginal Communities

Ellie Rennie, Tyson Yunkaporta, Indigo Holcombe-James


Aboriginal Australians living in remote communities are likely to be “mobile only” users. The sharing of devices among kin is common and linked to demand sharing practices that stretch back to presettler times. While sharing can produce benefits (acting as a form of insurance), it can also lead to privacy-related problems among this group, including illicit use of banking and social media accounts via shared devices. In this article, we examine the ways in which the aspect of Aboriginal sociality known as relatedness is interacting with online privacy frameworks designed for individual device use and device management. The findings suggest that the sociotechnical frameworks of platforms and devices do not accord with cultural dynamics, including obligations to others. Moreover, efforts by individuals and Elders to avoid privacy-related problems are leading to digital exclusion in various forms, from the deliberate destruction of devices to whole communities opting out of mobile infrastructure.


privacy, digital inclusion, remote Aboriginal communities, social media

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