This project was included in an exhibition, whereby we tested our hypothesis that mobile app users will accept most app permission requests without a second thought in order to access an app and it's functionalities, unaware of what information they are allowing app developers to access and use. Our goal was to legally gain access to smartphone data and show users what companies can do with that data.
Contribution: Product designer, researcher, and visual designer: app icon, user interface, web design. Collaborator: Xander Bos
Users don’t realize what information they are giving third parties access to when they agree to app permissions requests, or in what ways their data can legally be used.
We developed an Android app for this exhibition and asked participants to download our Android app, accept permission requests, complete a task, and return to our (local) website to see the results of their user task. When viewing the website, participants were confronted with their smartphone data (SMS’, photos, calendar events, and web browser history) posted online in a public space (a mix of all participant data) and in a private area of the website (showing only their data). Participants could also view webpages on the site consisting of statistics about privacy and mobile apps.
All of the participants who approached the installation and could download the app accepted the permissions, confirming our hypothesis that most people would accept the permissions to access a promised functionality. The reactions of participants varied from shocking to surprised, with differing degrees of intensity. These reactions were mostly determined by pure observation and debriefing.