Signs to Show that Data Is Being Collected for Web Research

  • Date Published
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Data collection initiates web research. But, it involves many verticals related to security and privacy.

Digital technologies are bringing in hundreds of benefits. But, you cannot fold eyes, ignoring challenges that these bring along with. Privacy is by far appearing the biggest challenge. Just putting a pop-up to inform terms and conditions before using any software or application is not enough. There are zillions of impulsive users around whom don’t have patience to read. They just skim through the lengthy privacy note.

In 2017, Google sister company-Sidewalk Labs suggested launching a set of icons to be displayed in the public spaces. Just like any other icon, these would demonstrate where and what kind of data are being collected. Simply put, you can see icons on the signboard on streets, parks, business premises and anywhere referring what kind of information the sensors fit around are taking away.

The idea was worth to applaud, as it is going to create 44,000 direct jobs by 2040, which most probably would stick around web research, data analysis, business intelligence and big data science etc. Plus, it is likely to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere in North America.

This urban technology would track all what sensors, cameras and Wi-Fi hotspots in 12-acre monitor. This monitoring can make privacy diced with the risk.

Signs to Display What’s Being Collected

A few experts called them the derivation from 2014’s Google designs, which referred to mobility, energy efficiency or, waste management at that time. There are some more ones who define them a collection of photos, air quality or, sound.  These are meant to improve the whole system, either of living or businesses, through research and deep analysis.

  • Yellow Hexagon

Splitting collection in a cognizable format is a big question.  The data scientists chose “yellow hexagon” a sign of personally identifiable information, which is the sensitive information associated with a person.

  • Blue Hexagon

On the flip side, the “blue hexagon” is opted in for stripped personal identifiers. Simply say, if your personal identifier is removed, the hexagon will show up blue colour.

  • QR Code

It denotes additional detailed resources online, which users can access by scanning QR code to know what kind of data is processed, stored and accessed.

All these signs are put on the signage at 307, Sidewalk Labs in Toronto for demonstrating what these icons can do.

Privacy Alarms

Despite being able to produce some effective tips for web research, there are some substantial facts that push you to rethink for preventing vulnerability. Some privacy advocates believed that these symbols don’t go far enough in addressing privacy concerns. Rather than simplifying, these symbols are adding more of noises. It is hard to digest a whole new visual language.

In short, digital literacy and privacy should have users involved in the process. They should be a part of this process. The literacy about all icons is too complicated to recall. But if one wants to know about his data being collected, he should keep them all into account that is way more difficult.

Clearly Reveal that Research Is Needed

A few privacy experts like Keenan believed that the data subject (users) should know about exactly how a research company is taking away their valuable details. This clarity would help them decide which information they want to disclose and what should not be shared in the public. Simply put, they can decide on giving or denying their consent over the usage of their data.

The government of Canada has privacy laws that mandate companies to acquire consent from data subjects beforehand. The users should know prior about the collection of identifiable details. In short, the user there knows which data is being collected and by whom. This crystal clear approach can make these symbols viable across the globe, as these are likely to make data usage more democratic.

The country like Barcelona has taken a step in this direction, developing tools that help users to gain access to and more of the control over how their personal data is likely to be used in researches. It also encompasses cryptography and blockchain industry.

London is another geography where this kind of data collection approach is embraced in transportation. It aims at getting access to anonymised behavior data through Wi-Fi in the subway. There, commuters are more likely to opt in Wi-Fi tracking if they know how the collected information is going to be used.