Translating privacy: developer cultures in the global world of practice

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This paper makes the case for considering the role of cross-cultural encounters in shaping developers’ notions of information privacy. Recent studies on privacy by design shed light on developer practices yet tend to regard these workers as a generic category. The paper draws on two interviews with workers in a late-stage Israeli startup as a step toward localizing developers and the global products they design. The analysis identifies four narratives that juxtapose the local, the global and the commodification of users’ personal information: (1) the origin myth of the company; (2) workers’ personal and professional biographies; (3) reports on external regulations; and (4) accounts of work practices, rituals and communication formats. The analysis suggests how the globalization of the startup was implicated in changing ideas and practices relating to users’ information. The paper concludes by discussing some of the challenges facing a culturally-sensitive study of developers as mediators of privacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-853
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - 12 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Developers
  • algorithms
  • cross-cultural organizations
  • globalization
  • privacy
  • regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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