Time to Design for Privacy

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We, as humans, desire interconnectedness, as much as we seek the solace of seclusion. Intricacies of modern technology and digitisation has fuelled this interconnectedness but, at the same time has chipped away at an individual’s ‘right to be left alone’[1].

Privacy, is a conundrum on the cusp of becoming a ‘wicked problem’[2]; due to the ubiquitous use of personal data for the delivery of tailored user experiences that individuals themselves desire and have grown to expect from businesses; while on the other detesting the feeling of being watched that comes with such targeted use of personal data. Hence, there is a need to devise an approach that reassures the user of responsible use of their personal data and demonstrate regulatory compliance as well.

A possible solution lies in a set of principles collectively known as design thinking, which inculcate empathy with users[3], defining the problem statement[4], ideation[5], the discipline of prototyping[6], and tolerance for failure through testing[7] for developing a responsive, flexible solution to protect privacy of users.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian laid down the seven foundational principles of Privacy by Design[8]– Proactive Not Reactive, Preventative not Remedial, Privacy as the Default, Privacy Embedded into Design, Full Functionality, End-to-End Security, Visibility and Transparency, Respect for User Privacy. Using design thinking guided by these foundational principles, privacy can be embedded into standards, protocols and processes that touch user lives.

Design research, followed by reframing and ideation is increasingly being adopted by practicing designers. An example on how to focus on privacy while designing is the application “MapIt”, currently in its demo stage, created by concur labs. “MapIt”, a basic map application with additional privacy settings.[9]

The application provides the user with three settings for location sharing and clearly labels what these settings mean for the application functionality. These are “INCOGNITO > Don’t share my location. Location is private. Offline navigation only. (Default)”, “OBSCURE > Share my approximate location. Exact location is private. Estimated guidance and time to destination”, “TRACK > Share my location. Exact location is known. Real-time navigation on.” [10]

Additionally, the application gives the functionality to also added in the idea of “personal areas”. Once it is detected that the user is within an area marked within their personal geofence, the user can obscure their exact location.

Approaching privacy from this ground up design thinking perspective holds the future for development of user centric products that understand the individual’s privacy concerns without compromising on services.

To know more and be a part of further discussion on Privacy Design, be a part of the 10th Best Practices Meet. Register here.

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[1] In their seminal article, Warren and Brandeis observed that: “The principle which protects personal writings and all other personal productions, not against theft and physical appropriation, but against publication in any form, is in reality not the principle of private property, but that of an inviolate personality.”

Warren and Brandeis, “The Right to Privacy”, Harvard Law Review (1890), Vol.4, No. 5, at page 195.

[2] The concept of wicked problems as envisaged by Professor Rittel and Webber was developed by community planners to describe social problems that are so complex that people disagree about how to define and solve them; in addition, efforts to solve the focal problem generally create unanticipated secondary problems, so the problem can never be fully solved.

[3] “Empathy is the centerpiece of a human-centered design process. The Empathize principle is the work one does to understand people, within the context of the design challenge. It is the effort to understand the user’s physical and emotional needs, how they think about world, and what is meaningful to them.” Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. (2010). An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide. Available: https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf.  Last accessed 21st June 2018.

[4] “Define mode of the design process is about bringing clarity and focus to the design space, by defining the challenges one is taking on, based on what one has learned about the user and about the context.”Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. (2010). An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE. Available: https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf.  Last accessed 21st June 2018.

[5] “Ideate is the principle of the design process in which one concentrates on idea generation. Ideation provides both the fuel and also the source material for building prototypes and getting innovative solutions into the hands of the users.” Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. (2010). An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide.

Available:https://dschoolold.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf.  Last accessed 21st June 2018.

[6] “Prototyping is the iterative generation of artifacts intended to answer questions that get one closer to the final solution. It can be used to elicit useful feedback from users and colleagues.” Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. (2010). An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide. Available: https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf.  Last accessed 21st June 2018.

[7] “Testing is when one solicits feedback, about the prototypes that have been created, from the users and have another opportunity to gain empathy for the user one is designing for.”  Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. (2010). An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide. Available: https://dschoolold.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf.  Last accessed 21st June 2018.

[8] Dr Ann Cavoukian, Privacy by Design: The Seven Foundational Principles, available at: https://iab.org/wp-content/IAB-uploads/2011/03/fred_carter.pdf  Last Accessed 31 May 2018.

[9] Product Design with Privacy in Mind – Concur Labs. (2018). Concur Labs.  Available:  https://blog.concurlabs.com/product-design-with-privacy-in-mind-cdba6592bec1 Last Accessed 21 June 2018.

[10] Ibid.

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