1. What is this effort about?
We aim at the development of a number of tools that will allow the collaboration of privacy-sensitive individuals in order to achieve better awareness of the privacy properties of applications, web pages and smart devices.
2. Who funds this endeavour?
At the moment, this is an unfunded effort led by a group of privacy-sensitive researchers and engineers. We hope to secure national and/or European funding in the immediate future so as to proceed with the implementation of our idea.
3. Who is leading this effort?
This is led by the Institute of Computer Science at FORTH, Greece. We are striving to secure the collaboration of various leading research institutions and companies around Europe that are interested in the topic.
4. What tools exactly are you developing?
Our idea was inspired by the unparalleled success of Wikipedia and other community-based efforts. We aim to harness the knowledge of the masses to provide tools that will help increase privacy awareness for people using digital services or smart devices.
For start, we will develop tools to enable users express their privacy expectations and rate digitals services based on how fair the services are with what they expected. In order to help promote a market that is built on trust relations, we will also develop facilities for developers to explain the purpose of their data access policies. Offering a platform that brings users and developers closer, not in an ad hoc way, but with measurable statistical data, will eventually achieve benefits for both ends.
We will also conceptualize terms and conditions, so that these complicated documents can be described in a concrete and uniform way. Such a conceptualization has many benefits. Just indicatively, it allows terms and conditions to be expressed using some common terms, enhancing therefore their understandability. Furthermore it allows them to be expressed using a much more compact form that quickly allow users review them and either accept them or reject them.
Finally, the aforementioned tools will be coupled with services for recommendations and for user engagement towards a more active privacy-sensitive online behavior, in order to enhance the role of the individual. This, after all, is a collaborative effort where each person can contribute in many ways to help the community.
5. Why a community-based approach?
Unlike other tools on the market, we are not suggesting an intrusive approach for enforcing privacy protection. Instead, we are driven by the belief that enough community support and public pressure can enforce a more fair treatment of people’s privacy by all related parties. This cannot replace the existing legal system; however, legislation tends to be one step behind when it comes to digital technologies, which evolve at a breathtaking pace.
6. Why are these tools relevant for privacy protection?
Our vision is that everyday people (the users of the proposed platform) will be better informed with respect to privacy. We believe that the current toll that a typical user has to pay for protecting his privacy (e.g., by reading and understanding Terms and Conditions documents) is too high.
Our plan is to lower the bar by providing crowdsourcing solutions that will help the user understand the ramifications of downloading and using a digital service, app, or a smart gadget/device, in just a few seconds.
7. Where can I find these tools?
The tools are not ready yet. The website you are currently visiting is an effort to gather the necessary community support. In parallel, we are working on securing national and/or European funding.
8. Why should I participate ?
The language of the industry is based on profit. A single person can achieve small leaps, when asking for data access policies to change. See for instance here how much a single user’s data is worth. An active and growing community, on the other hand, can create trends that the industry can translate in financial terms and understand how costly it will be to ignore.
After all, our solution is based on the premise that sufficient community support will provide the necessary input to our services. Current technology cannot replace humans in reading and understanding the Terms and Conditions documents. Therefore, support from privacy-sensitive individuals is necessary. And the more the better.
9. Are there any specific requirements about the members of the community in terms of skills or commitment?
Absolutely not! We do not require any particular skills for the members of our community. Everyone is invited to join. We expect from our members to actively contribute in populating our internal knowledge bases with privacy-related information about the Terms and Conditions of applications and smart devices, as well as the users’ expectations thereof; however, this is not a prerequisite for participating. Everyone could contribute according to his/her abilities and available time.
10. Is there any structure in the community? Will you employ moderators, super-users or something similar?
Practice has shown that for any established community to grow or for any new community to obtain substance, a group of highly committed and internally motivated individuals needs to be at its core. These individuals support and energise the whole community and maintain the social processes within: they initiate action, generate ideas, and motivate others.
Within the CAPrice ecosystem, this role is fulfilled by the group of CAPrice Privacy Ambassadors. The initial members of the CAPrice Privacy Ambassadors group have been carefully selected to combine three profile characteristics: privacy consciousness, more than average knowledge about digital technology, and confirmed desire to motivate society into adopting a more privacy-aware behaviour. Adequate processes for adding or removing members from this group will be defined, making the group an evolving entity that will adapt to the needs of the community as necessary.
11. What exactly is the role of the CAPrice Privacy Ambassadors?
The role of the CAPrice Privacy Ambassadors group is multi-faceted. First, they will support the growth of the community, by disseminating the community’s activities and overlooking the incorporation of new members. Secondly, they will leverage their social and professional contacts to help associating the CAPrice solution with the digital market and its main actors (industry, developers and policy makers).
Third, and most importantly, the Ambassadors will orchestrate the co-creation processes within the CAPrice ecosystem, from moderating the collective ideation debates, to assisting the sensemaking process of identifying the collective privacy norms that may warrant action. This includes, for example, deciding on new topics that the community should take a decision about (e.g., privacy icons for a new technology) and initiating the relevant discussions, or discussing novel ways of raising consumers’ awareness on new privacy threats, or even designing a new campaign on a topic of interest.
Note also that the group will be responsible for its self-adaptation to the community needs, by defining and following processes for “promoting” community members into ambassadors. Further, it should be noted that actions taken by Ambassadors are the result of their voluntary effort; it is important for the CAPrice initiative therefore to declare its commitment to respect the freedom of opinion and the freedom of determining the degree of involvement of each individual member, as permitted by her or his availability, interests and self-motivation.
12. How do you use my email and the other information that I provided in this web site?
Moreover, keep in mind that, once we start developing CAPrice, we will use your email (occasionally!) to let you know about our progress and invite you to visit and use the developed platform.
13. Why do you use social networks (e.g., facebook) for your cause?
The purpose of our community is to raise awareness for privacy concerns. Therefore we want to take advantage of social networks like facebook in order to sensitize and engage even more people; especially the users of such networks who are at the center of privacy related issues and whose data are constantly been exploited. By joining our community page in facebook, or follow us in twitter we can peer pressure facebook/twitter to take our privacy concerns more seriously.
14. If you are so sensitive about privacy, why do you use trackers in this website?
15. Will this be free?
Absolutely! The aim is to develop a platform for helping users collaborate with each other and improve privacy awareness, not to make a profit.
16. But then why do the involved companies and organizations commit resources to this effort? They won’t make any profit?
The involved entities will receive funding (national or European) for implementing the CAPrice tools; therefore, all committed resources will be paid for. Long-term sustainability (beyond the funding’s lifetime) will be ensured by the participating companies and organizations, whose aim is to improve their competitive advantage by establishing themselves as the pioneers for privacy-respecting application development and by providing more privacy-friendly applications. Therefore, they are more than happy to commit resources into the long-term support of the CAPrice solution, to improve their competitiveness in the market. In addition, we plan to enlist privacy-sensitive organizations, who may include CAPrice in their arsenal of tools for improving privacy awareness for citizens.