The draft proposal workshop was great, and highlighted a number of issues and opportunities with my proposition. Speaking briefly to my tutor I quickly realised that I would be unable to get administrative access to the Visual Communication and Emergent Practice Blog. After this, the workshop quickly turned into a brainstorming and rapid prototyping session. In reading out my ideas from the previous week to my partner we both felt that the application that converted complicated terms of service agreements into plain text would have the most value as a design proposition. We brainstormed some ideas around this, and developed the idea into a browser extension with a set of coloured icons that would reflect a site’s privacy policies in relation to specific areas of online privacy. We were able to come up with this idea much faster than in previous weeks because tasks 3A and 3B were finally explained to us. This was useful, but also extremely frustrating as would have been valuable to have this information earlier so I could have better shaped the research I conducted for the blog. This lack of communication has really detracted from my experience with the subject.
Users are generally unaware of how much information they contribute, either willingly or unwilling to online services. To help users understand how much data is being collected about them, I plan to create a service that simplifies deliberately complex terms of service contracts into easily understandable icons similar to those used in creative commons licensing. This icon set will breakdown the key terms that companies often obscure in complex legal documents, to help users better understand how their privacy is being affected. Some possible icons include: collection of personal and activity data, 1st and 3rd party data storage, selling of data and data ownership. These icons will be made open source to not only increase awareness of deceptive data practices but also create a framework for protecting privacy in the digital age. In addition to this, the service will also include the development of a website and browser extension designed to popularise the use of the icons. This website will work across desktop and mobile devices to provide an index of popular sites with their privacy policies broken down into icons and short descriptors. What’s more, the website will also act as a portal for users to suggest sites to be indexed and while also providing ways for them to aid in the development of the program. In addition, to this the website, the service will also include the development of a browser extension, which will provide users with real time information about the privacy policies of the site they’re currently visiting. Unfortunately owing to the more restrictive mobile ecosystem, this extension will be desktop only, which is disappointing given the popularity of mobile browsing. Despite this, the service’s icon set and accompanying web presence will help raise awareness within the target market of poor privacy practices while simultaneously providing a framework to promote greater transparency.