A central theme in much of my research and advocacy is ensuring attention to ethical values becomes an integral part of the conception, design, and development of information systems. Various frameworks have been developed to help pursue this goal (ie, value-sensitive design, values at play, critical technical practice), which can collectively be termed Values-In-Design (VID). [...]
I’ve received a preview copy of an important forthcoming volume, “Design and Ethics: Reflections on Practice,” edited by Emma Felton, Oksana Zelenko, Suzi Vaughan. This book marks an important contribution to the growing “ethical design” or “values in design” community of scholars and practitioners. From the publisher: The value of design for contributing to environmental [...]
I’m currently in Toronto, Canada for iConference 2012, presented by the iSchools organization, a worldwide collective of 33 Information Schools. The theme of the conference is “Culture-Design-Society”, and I will be presenting a paper titled “The ethical (re)design of the Google Books project”. The paper is available in the ACM digital library; the abstract and [...]
A few months ago Mozilla released Firefox 4, which featured an important “Do Not Track” function which informs websites and advertisers whether you wish to have your activity monitored and collected for behavioral targeting purposes. The problem, however, was that Firefox essentially buried the option, forcing users to stumble upon it on the “Advanced” tab [...]
Mozilla has released Firefox version 4, featuring a new look and feel (Chrome, anyone?), and new privacy and security features. The feature with the most potential — and the most buzz — is “Do Not Track,” which “lets you tell websites you don’t want your browsing behavior tracked.” This is an important step towards giving [...]
When Google launched Google Latitude 9 months ago, they took steps to ensure users’ locational privacy was protected. Among the most important privacy-protecting features was the fact that Google didn’t keep a log of user locations on its servers; only the most recent locational ping was stored. Not even law enforcement could gain access to [...]
Google describes Dashboard as a simple way to view “the data associated with your account”, and that it will provide users “greater transparency and control over their own data.” Elsewhere, Dashboard has been described as a “big concession to users’ privacy rights“, as the answer to the question: “What does Google know about me?”, and as a place providing users “more control over the personal information stored in Google’s databases“.
Unfortunately, Google Dashboard is none of these things.
Helen Nissenbaum and others on the PORTIA and PRESIDIO projects have released a white paper describing Privads, a client-side behavioral advertising system designed to protect users’ privacy: Online behavioral advertising (OBA) refers to the practice of tracking users across web sites in order to infer user interests and preferences. These interests and preferences are then [...]
Last month I noted that Google’s Street View service was being challenged by German data privacy authorities, who insisted that Google must permanently remove personally-identifying images from their databases (not just blur them in the user interface). Google argued that the original images are necessary to help the system “learn” how to automatically blur better [...]
Today, a six page letter was sent to Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, asking Google to honor the important privacy promises it has made to its customers and protect users’ communications from theft and snooping by enabling industry standard transport encryption technology (HTTPS) for Google Mail, Docs, and Calendar. The open letter is signed by 38 [...]