Post 5: An interview and issue probe on online privacy

Written by Jiahui Li (nancy)

In this blog I have introduced my semi structured interview which help me further understand more about online privacy, as well as collected more personal experience around online privacy. Here the summary of the Interview:

1. How much you know about online privacy?

First I will first think my personal information. Actually I’m not sure the definition of online privacy, the thing I know is all about we need protect our privacy online. For example, If I use apps without checking their privacy settings or the settings on my device, then I might be say-bye to my personal information. And also online privacy risk exist in our life everywhere; we lost our personal data in different ways: when you sign in a new website, sign in a new social account, using booking system, applying job….

2. Do you usually using privacy setting for your mobile? why?

Yes, I do. I think I’m the person really don’t like talk with strangers. I remember once I was using a chat app to chat with my friend, I didn’t turn off the location; then I got a lot people from nearby to add me friends and talk to me which is very annoying. So I always check the privacy setting when I sign in with new webs/apps. Furthermore, privacy setting can help me hide the information I don’t want to show, and most of people can’t find it.

3. Are you always read Terms and Conditions before you sign online? Any suggestion to improve?

No, definitely not. I haven’t meet the person really serious about Terms and Conditions in my life. I only read them briefly when I sign something really important, such as bank, paypal…They are too long and all looks same. For example, the new Terms and Conditions for Apple ID achieved 49 pages, that not possible to read them in full. In terms of suggestions, I was thinking use visual graphic, but it hard too communicate the content.

4. What do you think all your drives connect together with could (iphone/ipad/mac/…)?

I have iPhone,ipad and mac at home, all my drives are connect together. I don’t think there something wrong with the connection. If I lost the information from one of this drive or someone stolen my phone, I can get them back. I know my information will easily exposed, but I still think it’s will bring me benefits more than harm.

5. Are you usually provide your real information when you sign in on website/store? Why?

Yes, I am. But still depend on what kind of website/store. If the website I only use for once, I will sign in with fake information (most of them need verify your email address which I have no choice). But I usually put the wrong phone number for all my sign in. For me, email address, gender, age not that important, but phone number is the most important personal information.

TAKE HOME TASK (PROBE) : After the Interview, I have handed out to my interviewee a take home task specific to “ How many junk email/promotion email you have received in one week?” 

Though the pervious stakeholder maps of online/data privacy can be identified the relationship between general users, government and business/companies. Government and Companies on the positive side share values, and users don’t want their information expose in public.  Although government and companies undertake to protect user’s privacy, they still stick their personal information without causing the user’s suspect which can be used as their own advertising.


The screenshot above came from the issue probe completed by my interviewee which recorded “How many junk email/promotion email you have received in one week?” In the screen shot shows she got 27 promotion emails from different stores/companies include bank and school in one week.  As she said, sometimes the amount of the email far beyond these numbers. The companies collect your information when you sign in, analysis your need; they know what you may interesting in and send thousands of email no matter your feeling. Their behaviour made most users feel disturbing. Though they never stop to contact with you, these promotion emails from different companies did not cause our attention, so most of them are unread. Therefore, a descendant trend of government/companies reliability has been pointed out by most of online users.

Five point summary:

  1. Most promotion emails from government and companies has disturbed user’s life.
  2. The similarity and complexity lead to people give up with Terms and Conditions.
  3. Acute dependence has existed in the connection between different drives.
  4. User’s vague understanding causes privacy disclosure.
  5. An interview/ primary research can help us open mind and further understand more about online privacy
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