The Role of Privacy in Digitalization – Analysing the German Farmers‘ Perspective
Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PoPETs) ;2021(3).
Technological progress can disrupt domains and change the way we work and collaborate. This paper presents a qualitative study with 52 German farmers that investigates the impact of the ongoing digitalization process in agriculture and discusses the implications for privacy research. As in other domains, the introduction of digital tools and services leads to the data itself becoming a resource. Sharing this data with products along the supply chain is favored by retailers and consumers, who benefit from traceability through transparency. However, transparency can pose a privacy risk. Having insight into the business data of others along the supply chain provides an advantage in terms of market position. This is particularly true in agriculture, where there is already a significant imbalance of power between actors. A multitude of small and medium-sized farming businesses are opposed by large upstream and downstream players that drive technological innovation. Further weakening the market position of farmers could lead to severe consequences for the entire sector. We found that on the one hand, privacy behaviors are affected by adoption of digitalization, and on the other hand, privacy itself influences adoption of digital tools. Our study sheds light on the emerging challenges for farmers and the role of privacy in the process of digitalization in agriculture.