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[Colloquium] Designing Privacy Interfaces: Supporting User Understanding and Control

April 26, 2012

Watch Colloquium: 

M4V file (716 MB)

  • Date: Thursday, April 26, 2012 
  • Time: 11:00 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: Mechanical Engineering 218

Patrick Gage Kelley
Carnegie Mellon University 

Users are increasingly expected to manage complex privacy settings in their normal online interactions. From shopping to social networks, users make decisions about sharing their personal information with corporations and contacts, frequently with little assistance. Current solutions require consumers to read long documents or control complex settings buried deep in management interfaces. Because these mechanisms are difficult to use and have limited expressiveness, users often have little to no effective control.

My goal is to help people cope with the shifting privacy landscape. My work explores many aspects of how users make decisions regarding privacy, while my dissertation focuses on two specific areas: online privacy policies and mobile phone application permissions. I explored consumers’ current understanding of privacy in these domains, and then used that knowledge to iteratively design, build, and test more comprehensible information displays. I simplified online privacy policies through a “nutrition label” for privacy – a simple, standardized label that helps consumers compare website practices and am currently working to redesign the Android permissions display, which I have found to be incomprehensible to most users.


Bio: Patrick Gage Kelley is a Ph.D. candidate in Computation, Organizations, and Society at Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) School of Computer Science, who is co-advised by Lorrie Faith Cranor and Norman Sadeh. His research centers on information design, usability, and education involving privacy. He has worked on projects related to passwords, location-sharing, privacy policies, mobile apps, Twitter, Facebook relationship grouping, and the use of standardized, user-friendly privacy displays. He also works with the CMU School of Art’s STUDIO for Creative Inquiry in new media arts and information visualization. For more see