Project update

Early concepts and project direction

28th October

Continuing my research, I've interviewed experts in tech policy, privacy and IoT as well as users. After reading others research on informed consent especially Mozilla's Internet Health Report, I've become more aware that web literacy as the biggest barrier to informed consent. While at MozFest, the consumer guide *privacy not included was launched, it really showed me that digital experiences can be engaging and playful. Shifting my view that physical interventions are the most effective way of conveying a message and harnessing the benefits interface design (where my skills predominately are) could produce a journey just as engaging.

Much of the insights from users involved privacy policies being too long and complex, creating a situation where they are never read. My first sketch prototype is a way of highlighting the most important phrases, allowing users to scan the document for the important parts. After sketching the journey out, I quickly prototyped the experience as if it were a browser extension. The feedback from participants was varied. Some said that even though this was useful in certain scenarios such as legal documents for their finances, they would be unlikely to even get to the policy page where the extension would activate, choosing to just accept the terms instead. Another said that while it helped them scan the policy quicker, the highlighted phrases were still in legal speak rather than plain English. I concluded that it didn't persuade them to get to the policy in the first place or to have a better understanding of the terms, it just found the key phrases faster.

I brought the project back to how can users become more informed about how their data is used? While looking at ways of visualising the invisible exchange of data, I came across a depreciated Mozilla project called LightBeam (is has been forked to show which servers powered by renewable energy called GreenBeam). It records each site you visit and which advertising networks follow you around the web. Although I thought this was a engaging way to visualise hidden connections, others thought it was too complicated and without explanation. My project has evolved to focus on an digital experience that empowers users to have a greater understanding of how their data is used.