To what extent people know their data are being collected and used?

A July 2017 study revealed Tinder users are excessively willing to disclose information without realizing it. [19] Judith Duportail, who is a journalist living in Berlin, requested her personal data from Tinder with the help of privacy activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye. When email came back, she felt shocked about the   800 pages information collected by Tinder: her Facebook “likes”, her photos from Instagram (even after she deleted the associated account), her education, the age-rank of men she was interested in, how many times she collected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of her matches happened.

Actually, every single app you use regularly owns the same amounts of data of you. If everyone can receive a ‘data bill’ from all applications you use, you must feel horrified and guilty about how much information you were voluntarily disclosing: your locations, pictures, interests, habits, and your favourite restaurant. And you are not the only one who do like that.

 How to protect

 Privacy Policy

“A privacy policy is a statement or a legal document that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer or client’s data. The contents of a certain privacy policy will depend upon the applicable law. [20] Taking European Union as an example, in 1980, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued its “Recommendations of the Council Concerning Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Trans-Border Flows of Personal Data”. [21] The seven principles governing the OECD’s recommendations for protection of personal data were: notice, purpose, consent, security, disclosure, access and accountability. It is guaranteed in many countries as an important component of privacy and human rights law.

Technology approach

“If your data is not secure, it is not private”.[22] Google declares that they set up advanced security infrastructures. For example, they use encryption in transit, set up the cloud, and conduct threat detection. Meanwhile, they declare they do not give governments direct access to users’ data.

Manage settings

We can not really control where our data are traded by companies and enterprises in the real life, but we can manage privacy settings to protect our data from collected by others. In Google Privacy Policy, there is a part called “Take control”, which teaches you to secure your account by settings and check-ups. Block cookies from third-party who often used to track users is also a good way.

How people feel about being collected and used their data?


Do we care about privacy leakage? You know the answer already to some extent. Age, habits, and knowledge gap makes alarmingly differences among a large fraction of users. As for some users, not all tracking is evil. Many users do like targeted ads and easy to be influenced to make a purchase choice. A recent Washington Post interview quoted a privacy engineer as saying that “What is good for the consumer is good for the advertiser.” The question is of course who gets to make the decision of what is “good”. [23] On one hand, those people are happy with the convenience what big data take to them. On the other hand, they are bound to ignore the consequence of data disclosure somehow.

It is a fact that most people have not formed the awareness and built up habits of concerning about privacy, even if there are choices to control their privacy. Most people are reluctant to make use of them or feel they are burdensome. There is a huge individual difference with this problem, even among experts and industry, which makes it more difficult to supervise and make rules.

In Tenison Road project of Microsoft, they explore what role the prevalent data is playing and the relevant data might have in our daily life, and try to find out whether they have important meaning to people in objectivity. They choose Tension road in Cambridge as an example to understand data in perspective of “street life”.They collect the conversations between passersby and stuff in Microsoft Research, and then set up a ‘data instrument’ to aggregate and share relevant data. Finally, they chose physical charts as the final outcome to make audience engaged and easy to understand.

“The project aims to better understand the specificities and contingencies that arise when data is produced and used in place.”[24] It is a speculative experiment devoted to collect, represent and use data in local life. It inspired me to think about what data could change by the efforts of the congregated engagement. Only by examination can we get what consequence we want in the background of data technologies.

During the research, I found several great artists dealing with privacy and data collection. Following are case studies: