PrivacyON: Bridging the Gap between Society and the Privacy Ecosystem

A tremendous and still growing amount of data is collected online about citizens. These data not only put our privacy at stake, but also build a breeding ground for manipulation and discrimination. Despite its regulatory success, the General Data Protection Regulation does not definitely solve this critical issue. The core of this proposal is therefore to empower citizens to best protect their privacy. Until now, members from across the whole privacy ecosystem, such as privacy researchers, privacy organisations, and privacy advocates, have spent tremendous effort to reach this goal, albeit with limited success: Only few citizens use privacy-enhancing technologies. Therefore, PrivacyON targets to contribute in bridging the existing gap between society and the privacy ecosystem. Our approach goes beyond the state of the art, which mainly focus on (1) predicting citizens’ intentions of use or acceptance of these technologies and (2) evaluating their usability. In PrivacyON, we will work towards addressing obstacles that users encounter -- before -- installing privacy-enhancing tools. To this end, we will develop new methods to assist users in informing themselves, selecting the tool to be installed, and making the consequences of their selection transparent. The methods to be developed will be accompanied by the design of the corresponding user interfaces. We will integrate them into a prototype and thoroughly evaluate it. As a result, the outcomes of this project will deepen our understanding of this topic and provide solutions to reshape the current state-of-the-art. PrivacyON will hence not only benefit to the privacy ecosystem based on our lessons learnt and derived design principles, but also ultimately benefit citizens.