Privacy is required in both computer supported cooperative work interfaces and in social interfaces in order for groups of individuals to operate in what the social theorist Erving Goffman called "backstage" areas. There, free from the immediate supervision of formal authorities, they can work out mutually agreed upon patterns of acceptible behavior. Without these shared private spaces, the theoretical conditions for communicative action and moral development are restricted by the interface design.
In our enthusiasm to civilize the unruly world of online communications, social theory strongly suggests that we avoid the temptation to build technologies of surveillance and control as a solution to online behavior. Especially in educational and community environments, private spaces where social interactions among people regulate behavior are essential for moral development.
TABLE 1. Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Judgment
TABLE 2. Habermas' Stages of Interaction, Social Perspectives, and Moral Stages
TABLE 3. Design Features and Stages of Moral Development
Habermas, Jürgen. 1992. "Individuation through Socialization: On George Herbert Mead's Theory of Subjectivity," pages 149-204 in Postmetaphysical Thinking. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Kohlberg, Lawrence. 1981. Essays on Moral Development. San Francisco.
Perrolle, Judith A. 1995. "Surveillance and Privacy in Computer Supported Cooperative Work" (in David Lyon and Elia Zureik, eds., New Technology, Surveillance and Social Control. University of Minnesota Press. Available online.
Perrolle, Judith A. 1991. "Conversations and Trust in Computer Interfaces," In Charles Dunlop and Rob Kling, eds. Computers and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices. New York: Academic Press.