Data Subjects' Reactions to Exercising Their Right of Access


Arthur Borem, Elleen Pan, Olufunmilola Obielodan, Aurelie Roubinowitz, and Luca Dovichi, University of Chicago; Michelle L. Mazurek, University of Maryland; Blase Ur, University of Chicago


Recent privacy laws have strengthened data subjects' right to access personal data collected by companies. Prior work has found that data exports companies provide consumers in response to Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs) can be overwhelming and hard to understand. To identify directions for improving the user experience of data exports, we conducted an online study in which 33 participants explored their own data from Amazon, Facebook, Google, Spotify, or Uber. Participants articulated questions they hoped to answer using the exports. They also annotated parts of the export they found confusing, creepy, interesting, or surprising. While participants hoped to learn either about their own usage of the platform or how the company collects and uses their personal data, these questions were often left unanswered. Participants' annotations documented their excitement at finding data records that triggered nostalgia, but also shock and anger about the privacy implications of other data they saw. Having examining their data, many participants hoped to request the company erase some, but not all, of the data. We discuss opportunities for future transparency-enhancing tools and enhanced laws.

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