Ame Elliott: No, Thank you! User Experience Design for Privacy

Privacy is a choice - but it’s one we can design for. Even the simplest elements can shape people’s behaviour for the better, says Ame Elliott.

Ame Elliott is design director at Simply Secure

WARNING: Live-blogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be updated over the next few days.

Much of the conversation around security and privacy is militaristic, or crime based. It shouldn’t be. This is an important issue for all of us.

Governments and companies gather data about it. Which of the two you worry about will depend on where you live. Germans tend to be sceptical about companies having data, and less so about the government. In the US it’s the opposite. It’s not something that has happened since November – it’s an on-going battle.

Corporate and governmental surveillance is part of the context we live in. And Apps are part of that. DDPerks is an app from Dunkin Donuts that gives you rewards, but if you look at the app permissions, it tracks you all the time. It asks to delete media off your phone, stop your phone sleeping, it wants your contacts… We’re handing over masses of data to the company.

This isn’t just a conversation about a 1 to 1 consumer relationship, it’s bigger than that. Internet of things devices in your home can be compromised and you wouldn’t know. Your router or baby monitor can be used as part of a botnet to drive denial of services attacks. It can be used to suppress journalism or political information. Brian Krebs estimates it would cost him $50,000 a year to keep his site up. That’s more than an individual can manage.

Read receipts for surveillance

Always on devices listening for gunshots? Yes, it can alert police more quickly, but we need to have a conversation about the privacy implications. The same applies to device like Alexa. It knows if English is your second language – which could be worrying in the current political climate.

Design decisions can change your behaviour – people avoid reading WhatsApp or Messages messages because they know their attention will translate to a read recepit, and a lack of response becomes read. We need these for microphones and other monitoring services.

Style guides are helpful tool for getting teams to remain consistent. Colours and shapes send messages.

Simply Secure has a knowledge base you can access online. It’s a non-profit, educational resource, so use it!