What Does Privacy Look Like? Carnegie Mellon Professor Explores Public Attitudes, Concerns Using Drawings
Hundreds of People Draw Pictures Expressing Ideas About Privacy
By Daniel Tkacik / 412-268-1187 / and Byron Spice / 412-268-9068
What is privacy? People sometimes have a hard time putting it in words. So Lorrie Cranor, a leading authority on Internet privacy at Carnegie Mellon University, has explored the meaning of privacy by asking people to draw pictures.
The project, Privacy Illustrated, has amassed hundreds of drawings thus far, from participants ranging in age from 5 to 91. And Cranor invites anyone to contribute to the project by making a drawing of what privacy means to them and uploading it to the project website.
"It's a fascinating view into what people think about privacy," said Cranor, a professor of computer science and engineering and public policy, as well as director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Lab.
"With the little kids, you can see doors, bedrooms, and pulling the blankets over their heads," as concerns about their bodies and personal spaces predominate, she said. She noted that adults and teens express some of the same concerns but, in this post-Snowden era, also reveal worries about government surveillance or about overexposure on social networks.
"Though some talk about privacy as being an old-fashioned idea, these pictures show that people of all ages do care about privacy," Cranor said.
Cranor's project began at Carnegie Mellon's Studio for Creative Inquiry, where she and a group of artists, Ph.D. students and postdocs collaborated on a project called Deep Lab, which examined themes including not only privacy, but security, anonymity and large-scale data aggregation. The project produced a 240-page book, available in print or as a free download, and Privacy Illustrated was one of the chapters.
Cranor and her colleagues visited the Carnegie Mellon Children's School and Pittsburgh Public School classrooms to collect drawings from students in kindergarten, 3rd grade, 6th grade, and high school. For adults, Cranor's group initially crowdsourced the drawings by hiring online workers through Amazon Mechanical Turk to produce more than 100 pictures.
She continues to collect drawings at conferences and from volunteers who upload their own drawings. People can draw a picture and then photograph it or scan it so it can be uploaded, or they can use a tablet or other digital device to draw the picture and then upload it. The Privacy Illustrated team will have markers and paper available at CMU's Privacy Day celebration on Jan. 28 and will be collecting privacy drawings.
Visitors to the Privacy Illustrated website, http://cups.cs.cmu.edu/privacyillustrated/, can explore the drawings in random order or via keywords.
CMU Data Privacy Day
CMU brings International Data Privacy Day to campus on Jan. 28 with a series of events, featuring experts, including Lorrie Cranor, to help you keep your personal data safe.
In this video, Cranor, an engineering & public policy and computer science professor, discusses her work related to computer security and privacy.
CMU Privacy Day's keynote speaker is Julie Brill, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, who will address today's "Internet of Things," how household devices connected to the Internet pose challenges to your personal privacy. Brill's keynote will be at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 28 in Rangos 1 of the Cohon University Center.
Following her talk, Brill will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Farnam Jahanian, CMU vice president for research. Panelists will include CMU professors and privacy experts Alessandro Acquisti, Norman Sadeh and Cranor.
The project, Privacy Illustrated, has amassed hundreds of drawings thus far, from participants ranging in age from 5 to 91. Anyone can contribute to the project by making a drawing of what privacy means to them and uploading it to the project website.