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Open access

Linda Lee, David Fifield, Nathan Malkin, Ganesh Iyer, Serge Egelman and David Wagner

Abstract

Although Tor has state-of-the art anticensorship measures, users in heavily censored environments will not be able to connect to Tor if they cannot configure their connections. We perform the first usability evaluation of Tor Launcher, the graphical user interface (GUI) that Tor Browser uses to configure connections to Tor. Our study shows that 79% (363 of 458) of user attempts to connect to Tor in simulated censored environments failed. We found that users were often frustrated during the process and tried options at random. In this paper, we measure potential usability issues, discuss design constraints unique to Tor, and provide recommendations based on what we learned to help more users connect to Tor while reducing the time they take to do so. Tor Browser incorporated the changes proposed by this study.

Open access

Nathan Malkin, Joe Deatrick, Allen Tong, Primal Wijesekera, Serge Egelman and David Wagner

Abstract

As devices with always-on microphones located in people’s homes, smart speakers have significant privacy implications. We surveyed smart speaker owners about their beliefs, attitudes, and concerns about the recordings that are made and shared by their devices. To ground participants’ responses in concrete interactions, rather than collecting their opinions abstractly, we framed our survey around randomly selected recordings of saved interactions with their devices. We surveyed 116 owners of Amazon and Google smart speakers and found that almost half did not know that their recordings were being permanently stored and that they could review them; only a quarter reported reviewing interactions, and very few had ever deleted any. While participants did not consider their own recordings especially sensitive, they were more protective of others’ recordings (such as children and guests) and were strongly opposed to use of their data by third parties or for advertising. They also considered permanent retention, the status quo, unsatisfactory. Based on our findings, we make recommendations for more agreeable data retention policies and future privacy controls.