Project Synopsis

Email icon with a badge indicating 1330 pending emails that is animated to decrease to 15 pending emails

The internet has become a crucial component in our daily lives. As you get ready for work, you might ask Siri what the weather for today is and check Google Maps for the best route to your job with the least traffic. On your commute, you use Apple Music to play your favorite song and pre-order your coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts using their mobile app. At work, you might communicate with your coworkers through email and schedule a video conference with your client on Zoom. In 2018, the average user in the United States used 55.76 gb of wireless data traffic per laptop per month (Statistica 2020). As a result, we are constantly sending bits and pieces of our personal information across the internet through account sign-ups, subscription services, social media accounts, and purchase history. 63% of American users that are 18 or older have reported that they have one email while only 6% of users reported having 4 or more email accounts (Statistica 2018). The issue of having only one main email is that security breaches are quite common. The number of data breaches has been steadily been increasing since 2005, with 2017 having the highest number of breaches in a year surmounting to over 197 million records exposed (Statistica 2019) . The question I am exploring is how can we give users more agency over their own data. Tech companies have responded to this issue by writing a “Terms and Conditions” or “Privacy Policy” document. In these documents, the companies motivations are listed as well as how they use your data. The problem is that these documents are usually very long and written in legal jargon that make it difficult for the average person to parse through. Now adding the fact that people might sign up for hundreds of accounts in their lifetime, the likelihood of someone reading every one of these legal documents before submitting their information to a company/service is very low. 42% of users in America only sometimes pay attention to the information used by the apps on their smartphones (Statistica 2019). My goal as a technologist is create a tool(s) that can help simplify a person journey in monitoring how their data is being used.

For this class, my project will focus on designing/creating a chrome extension that parses the “Terms and Conditions” or “Privacy Policy” documents on websites into summarized bullet points as well as keep a running inventory of all the places you have entered your email.

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