Carnegie Mellon University
March 17, 2022

Cranor featured in Consumer Reports on data sharing

Engineering and Public Policy FORE Systems Professor Lorrie Cranor spoke with Consumer Reports addressing concerns about sharing analytics and usage data with tech companies and manufacturers. 

In your excitement to set up a new device or software, you may have answered yes to a question asking you to share analytics and usage data from your device with the manufacturer to help it improve its products. But did you really understand exactly what you agreed to?

Consumer Reports journalist Adam Tanner found that experts differ in their assessment of how much a typical consumer should worry about sharing of usage and crash data from their devices.

“I actually think that most of the time, that’s fine,” says Cranor. “Especially if it’s a legitimate company, that is in fact what they’re going to do with the data. But that said, there is a small risk, because the crash report may include sensitive data that’s on your computer.”

Aleecia McDonald, PhD, associate director of the privacy engineering program at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, addressed concerns about the potential exposure of personal data by saying that, “if you want to [share], great, you’ll slightly contribute to a better and more debugged world. That’s a nice thing,” she says. “And as long as you’re not doing anything at all ever on your device that you don’t want to be public? Sure.”

Read the full article to learn more about how companies are using your usage and analytics data.