Chilling Effects as a Result of Corporate Surveillance in Digital Communication: A Comparison Between American and Dutch Media Users

Joanna Strycharz, Claire M. Segijn


Individual data used by companies contribute to perceptions of corporate surveillance among media users, who may respond to them by inhibition of legitimate behaviors, the so-called chilling effects. We investigated how media users respond to corporate surveillance by studying chilling effects, focusing on TV consumption and related media multitasking behaviors. A survey in the United States (N = 148) and the Netherlands (N = 156) showed two types of chilling effects, namely media use increase and decrease, and four different behavioral changes in media use, namely change in type of media activity, in mobile device settings and use, in multitasking behaviors, and in TV viewing. These chilling effects were mostly driven by privacy-related factors and psychological differences. Furthermore, cross-country differences were identified as U.S. media users showed more intention to change media behaviors, while Dutch users to increase their TV viewing and multitasking. This may suggest a certain effectiveness of current privacy regulations as they prevent Dutch media users from behavior change but can also be seen as an indication of the so-called control paradox.


chilling effects, corporate surveillance, online privacy, individual autonomy

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