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  1. In December, 2020, Apple began requiring developers to disclose their data collection and use practices to generate a “privacy label” for their application. The use of mobile application Software Development Kits (SDKs) and third-party libraries, coupled with a typical lack of expertise in privacy, makes it challenging for developers to accurately report their data collection and use practices. In this work we discuss the design and evaluation of a tool to help iOS developers generate privacy labels. The tool combines static code analysis to identify likely data collection and use practices with interactive functionality designed to prompt developers to elucidatemore »analysis results and carefully reflect on their applications’ data practices. We conducted semi-structured interviews with iOS developers as they used an initial version of the tool. We discuss how these results motivated us to develop an enhanced software tool, Privacy Label Wiz, that more closely resembles interactions developers reported to be most useful in our semi-structured interviews. We present findings from our interviews and the enhanced tool motivated by our study. We also outline future directions for software tools to better assist developers communicating their mobile app’s data practices to different audiences.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Over the past decade, researchers have started to explore the use of NLP to develop tools aimed at helping the public, vendors, and regulators analyze disclosures made in privacy policies. With the introduction of new privacy regulations, the language of privacy policies is also evolving, and disclosures made by the same organization are not always the same in different languages, especially when used to communicate with users who fall under different jurisdictions. This work explores the use of language technologies to capture and analyze these differences at scale. We introduce an annotation scheme designed to capture the nuances of twomore »new landmark privacy regulations, namely the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA/CPRA. We then introduce the first bilingual corpus of mobile app privacy policies consisting of 64 privacy policies in English (292K words) and 91 privacy policies in German (478K words), respectively with manual annotations for 8K and 19K fine-grained data practices. The annotations are used to develop computational methods that can automatically extract “disclosures” from privacy policies. Analysis of a subset of 59 “semi-parallel” policies reveals differences that can be attributed to different regulatory regimes, suggesting that systematic analysis of policies using automated language technologies is indeed a worthwhile endeavor.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  3. Privacy plays a crucial role in preserving democratic ideals and personal autonomy. The dominant legal approach to privacy in many jurisdictions is the “Notice and Choice” paradigm, where privacy policies are the primary instrument used to convey information to users. However, privacy policies are long and complex documents that are difficult for users to read and comprehend. We discuss how language technologies can play an important role in addressing this information gap, reporting on initial progress towards helping three specific categories of stakeholders take advantage of digital privacy policies: consumers, enterprises, and regulators. Our goal is to provide a roadmapmore »for the development and use of language technologies to empower users to reclaim control over their privacy, limit privacy harms, and rally research efforts from the community towards addressing an issue with large social impact. We highlight many remaining opportunities to develop language technologies that are more precise or nuanced in the way in which they use the text of privacy policies.« less
  4. Decomposable tasks are complex and comprise of a hierarchy of sub-tasks. Spoken intent prediction, for example, combines automatic speech recognition and natural language understanding. Existing benchmarks, however, typically hold out examples for only the surface-level sub-task. As a result, models with similar performance on these benchmarks may have unobserved performance differences on the other sub-tasks. To allow insightful comparisons between competitive end-to-end architectures, we propose a framework to construct robust test sets using coordinate ascent over sub-task specific utility functions. Given a dataset for a decomposable task, our method optimally creates a test set for each sub-task to individually assessmore »sub-components of the end-to-end model. Using spoken language understanding as a case study, we generate new splits for the Fluent Speech Commands and Snips SmartLights datasets. Each split has two test sets: one with held-out utterances assessing natural language understanding abilities, and one with heldout speakers to test speech processing skills. Our splits identify performance gaps up to 10% between end-to-end systems that were within 1% of each other on the original test sets. These performance gaps allow more realistic and actionable comparisons between different architectures, driving future model development. We release our splits and tools for the community.1« less
  5. “Notice and choice” is the predominant approach for data privacy protection today. There is considerable user-centered research on providing effective privacy notices but not enough guidance on designing privacy choices. Recent data privacy regulations worldwide established new requirements for privacy choices, but system practitioners struggle to implement legally compliant privacy choices that also provide users meaningful privacy control. We construct a design space for privacy choices based on a user-centered analysis of how people exercise privacy choices in real-world systems. This work contributes a conceptual framework that considers privacy choice as a user-centered process as well as a taxonomy formore »practitioners to design meaningful privacy choices in their systems. We also present a use case of how we leverage the design space to finalize the design decisions for a real-world privacy choice platform, the Internet of Things (IoT) Assistant, to provide meaningful privacy control in the IoT.« less
  6. Increasingly, icons are being proposed to concisely convey privacy-related information and choices to users. However, complex privacy concepts can be difficult to communicate. We investigate which icons effectively signal the presence of privacy choices. In a series of user studies, we designed and evaluated icons and accompanying textual descriptions (link texts) conveying choice, opting-out, and sale of personal information — the latter an opt-out mandated by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). We identified icon-link text pairings that conveyed the presence of privacy choices without creating misconceptions, with a blue stylized toggle icon paired with “Privacy Options” performing best. Themore »two CCPA-mandated link texts (“Do Not Sell My Personal Information” and “Do Not Sell My Info”) accurately communicated the presence of do-not-sell opt-outs with most icons. Our results provide insights for the design of privacy choice indicators and highlight the necessity of incorporating user testing into policy making.« less
  7. Abstract Cameras are everywhere, and are increasingly coupled with video analytics software that can identify our face, track our mood, recognize what we are doing, and more. We present the results of a 10-day in-situ study designed to understand how people feel about these capabilities, looking both at the extent to which they expect to encounter them as part of their everyday activities and at how comfortable they are with the presence of such technologies across a range of realistic scenarios. Results indicate that while some widespread deployments are expected by many (e.g., surveillance in public spaces), others are not,more »with some making people feel particularly uncomfortable. Our results further show that individuals’ privacy preferences and expectations are complicated and vary with a number of factors such as the purpose for which footage is captured and analyzed, the particular venue where it is captured, and whom it is shared with. Finally, we discuss the implications of people’s rich and diverse preferences on opt-in or opt-out rights for the collection and use (including sharing) of data associated with these video analytics scenarios as mandated by regulations. Because of the user burden associated with the large number of privacy decisions people could be faced with, we discuss how new types of privacy assistants could possibly be configured to help people manage these decisions.« less
  8. Website privacy policies sometimes provide users the option to opt-out of certain collections and uses of their personal data. Unfortunately, many privacy policies bury these instructions deep in their text, and few web users have the time or skill necessary to discover them. We describe a method for the automated detection of opt-out choices in privacy policy text and their presentation to users through a web browser extension. We describe the creation of two corpora of opt-out choices, which enable the training of classifiers to identify opt-outs in privacy policies. Our overall approach for extracting and classifying opt-out choices combinesmore »heuristics to identify commonly found opt-out hyperlinks with supervised machine learning to automatically identify less conspicuous instances. Our approach achieves a precision of 0.93 and a recall of 0.9. We introduce Opt-Out Easy, a web browser extension designed to present available opt-out choices to users as they browse the web. We evaluate the usability of our browser extension with a user study. We also present results of a large-scale analysis of opt-outs found in the text of thousands of the most popular websites.« less
  9. Villata, S. (Ed.)
    The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has compelled businesses and other organizations to update their privacy policies to state specific information about their data practices. Simultaneously, researchers in natural language processing (NLP) have developed corpora and annotation schemes for extracting salient information from privacy policies, often independently of specific laws. To connect existing NLP research on privacy policies with the GDPR, we introduce a mapping from GDPR provisions to the OPP-115 annotation scheme, which serves as the basis for a growing number of projects to automatically classify privacy policy text. We show that assumptions made in the annotationmore »scheme about the essential topics for a privacy policy reflect many of the same topics that the GDPR requires in these documents. This suggests that OPP-115 continues to be representative of the anatomy of a legally compliant privacy policy, and that the legal assumptions behind it represent the elements of data processing that ought to be disclosed within a policy for transparency. The correspondences we show between OPP-115 and the GDPR suggest the feasibility of bridging existing computational and legal research on privacy policies, benefiting both areas.« less
  10. Privacy policies are long and complex documents that are difficult for users to read and understand, and yet, they have legal effects on how user data is collected, managed and used. Ideally, we would like to empower users to inform themselves about issues that matter to them, and enable them to selective explore those issues. We present PRIVACYQA, a corpus consisting of 1750 questions about the privacy policies of mobile applications, and over 3500 expert annotations of relevant answers. We observe that a strong neural baseline underperforms human performance by almost 0.3 F1 on PRIVACYQA, suggesting considerable room for improvementmore »for future systems. Further, we use this dataset to shed light on challenges to question answerability, with domain-general implications for any question answering system. The PRIVACYQA corpus offers a challenging corpus for question answering, with genuine real-world utility.« less