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University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI research to be featured at fifth annual FTC PrivacyCon

Friday, 07/10/2020

Three studies conducted by researchers from the Security Privacy Interaction Lab (spilab) at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI), will be presented at the Federal Trade Commission’s annual PrivacyCon, a symposium highlighting important privacy research for policymakers from across the country. 

Yixin Zou, a PhD candidate at UMSI, will present Examining the Adoption and Abandonment of Security, Privacy, and Identity Theft Protection Practices.

Zou and UMSI assistant professor Florian Schaub conducted a large-scale survey in collaboration with NortonLifeLock to gain a better understanding about whether and why people adopt and/or abandon expert advice in security and privacy practices. This study originally appeared at the 2020 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems where it received an honorable mention award.

"Most prior studies only focused on whether or not people adopt such expert advice, but we also investigated once they followed the advice, what made them abandon it,” says Zou. "This paper stems from my internship at the NortonLifeLock research group. I really enjoyed this collaboration and am glad to see it provide value for policy makers."

Christine Utz, PhD candidate at Ruhr University Bochum, will present (Un)informed Consent: Studying GDPR Consent Notices in the Field, a collaboration with UMSI’s Schaub. It appeared originally at the 2019 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

The paper describes a large-scale field experiment in which Utz, Schaub and their co-authors  investigated whether and how the presentation and content of cookie consent notices on websites affect people’s consent behavior. 

“Some of our findings are quite concerning, such as that just where on the screen a cookie notice is displayed has a significant effect on whether people consent,” says Schaub.” Similarly, giving less choice, for instance only an accept button, results in high consent rates compared to offering more detailed choices. This draws into question whether consent can be given freely as consumers can be easily coerced to consent by companies’ manipulating the presentation of these notices.”

Hana Habib, PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, will present on usability of websites’ data deletion and opt-out choices, based on research conducted with Schaub, Zou and a team of Carnegie Mellon co-investigators. It appeared originally at the 2019 Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security and the 2020 ACM CHI Conference. 

“This line of work combined an empirical analysis of potential usability issues on 150 websites with a user study on how people struggle to exercise privacy choices and opt-outs on websites,” explains Schaub. “Our work shows the need for more standardization in where opt-out choices are located and how they are presented. We also identified some dark patterns websites use to dissuade people from opting out.”

The fifth annual FTC PrivacyCon is free and open to the public. The event will take place online  on July 21, 2020.

- Jessica Webster, UMSI PR Specialist