Why Is Evaluating Usability of Privacy Designs so Hard? Lessons Learned From a User Study of PRISM

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Executive Summary

Privacy is a thorny issue that affects all information systems designed for interpersonal interaction and awareness. Theoretical insights regarding privacy and user experience in a variety of systems have produced numerous design principles and guidelines for building systems sensitive to privacy issues. In order to truly improve support for privacy management, the usability of systems that implement these principles is critical. Yet, usability evaluation of privacy designs is a relatively unexplored area. In this paper, the authors describe the experience of conducting a longitudinal user study to evaluate the effectiveness of the privacy management enhancements offered by PRISM, a plugin for Instant Messaging (IM).

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