The goal of KnowPrivacy is to influence policy change regarding data collection and sharing practices employed by popular Internet sites. The project aims to increase interest in the current state of online privacy by making the potential dangers more salient.
By contrasting industry practices with public sentiment about privacy, the research done for this project will identify key areas of concern that industry self regulation has failed to properly address. The research results will be packaged in easily accessible formats for distribution by media and public advocacy organizations as well as gain the attention of policy makers. With this publicity, KnowPrivacy hopes to effect improved regulation of data collection practices or to incentivize Internet sites to adjust their practices and be more forthright and explicit with the construction of their policies.
What gave you the idea for this project?
We heard several stories lately that exemplified the poor state of privacy online and we decided that we wanted to conduct a project that would protect users' privacy.
Our initial goal was to create a tool to help educate end users about the policies of the websites they visit, but after studying prior work on the behavioral economics of privacy we realized that changing user behavior is difficult.
We decided a better solution to the problem might be through improved regulation of data collection practices or more conscious action on the part of website operators. Thus, the goal of our project is to influence policymakers to change current industry practices.
How does this project integrate what you've learned during your two years at the I School?
This project brings together several topics and courses we have studied in our time at the I School, such as: Information Policy, IT Economics & Strategy, Information Visualization, Behavioral Economics, Research Methods, Usability, Security, etc.
Who might benefit from a system like this?
The goal of this project is to raise awareness about the differences between consumer perceptions and the practices of companies that harvest user data in an attempt to influence policy and practices in this space. This will hopefully benefit both Internet users and the companies that service them.