2019 Privacy Design Forecast

Assembling privacy design concepts that policymakers and legislators should consider when crafting privacy regulations in order to keep  users’ personal data private and safe.

Technology touches every part of our civic world. We see how it impacts our lives through social interactions and ability to exercise our right to vote. Governments and policymakers need to know how smart technology policies can be enacted to help society adapt to protect user privacy and rights.

In the Spring of 2019, The Shorenstein Center is convening policymakers to discuss frameworks for safeguarding consumer rights for their data. Calling all designers, technologists, engineers, researchers, product managers, and more: We are seeking to curate a set of inspirational design concepts that can be used in practice to share with governments and policymakers and are asking for your help to contribute. Inspired by our colleagues at Nieman Lab who create the annual “Predictions for Journalism” list, we hope to compile the best examples of technology and privacy trends to consider when crafting policies and regulations


Foundational research questions as guidance:

  • How might we reimagine meaningful, informed consent for sharing personal data?
  • How might we help consumers and citizens regain control over their personal information?
  • How might we more effectively present risks and benefits to consumers when they provide personal information about their thoughts, activities, and intentions?

What we’re looking for:

A visual that explains your privacy design concept. Visual formats include but are not limited to the following:

  • A simple wireframe that shows how the use of visual elements or iconography in onboarding a user to use a product or service
  • A written summary that explains a “bill of rights” that users are shared with users beforehand
  • A napkin sketch showing just-in-time disclosures before opting in to give a service provider access to photos or facial recognition
  • A screenshot mockup that shows how a visual cue embedded on the top navigation bar that shows that GPS location is “on” or in use.
  • A flow diagram that shows how users can access details about membership in a third-party auditing and monitoring service that certifies adherence to policies and controls for data.

A concise explanation of the visual that includes:

  • Problem
  • User
  • Scenario + Use Case (use a person’s name to make this more human)
  • Prototype explanation

Who we’re looking for:

  • If you’ve worked on any body of work that overlaps with privacy design considerations, found a solution for it and are willing to abstract it into a pattern or concept.
  • If you anticipate a technology that will use personal data that may need thoughtful design, you can highlight the potential privacy implications.
  • Practicing designers, engineers and researchers who can submit both a concept and a visual.

What we’re not looking for:

  • An ambitious, multi-page intricately detailed redesign of an existing product’s entire privacy settings and user interaction. This tackles a very specific use case with multiple design components that may not be easily translatable. We want to generate design solutions that can be applicable to broader uses around data and privacy.
  • A dense, academic, research paper or whitepaper. Keep it simple. We want a lean, light-weight, distilled concept that can add fresh perspectives to policymakers’ understanding and approach. The information we’re seeking should be communicated in a way that is comprehensible to a variety of audiences (wireframe, quick summary, flow diagram, etc.), not in a format that is created for technical engineers or academics.
  • Proposals for new legislation or regulation. The designs and concepts should provoke a fresh perspective that will stimulate fresh thinking around use cases and principles in practice. This information will be used for policy-related stakeholders to improve the current user experience around privacy.

Key goals and outcomes:

  • Develop a broad set of engaging ideas on ways we could consider or frame consent and terms of service processes.
  • Engage with practitioners, researchers, and design professionals on new ways to consider consent.
  • Stimulate discussion among policymakers to improve terms of service, consent, and privacy policies.
  • Imagine possibilities for consumers to control, options, and choice over their personal data.
  • Provide more ideas to share with policymakers that inspire incentive systems for embracing privacy by design.

Who is the audience for this work?

There are two main audiences we hope to bring together with this work. First are the policymakers who are responsible for crafting regulation, legislation and guidelines. Second are the designers, engineers, and builders who are creating these experiences and should be sensitive and responsive to users’ rights and concerns.

Why participate?

  • A chance to be a part of an initiative to inform policymakers on a crucially important  issue.
  • The opportunity to share your thought leadership and work alongside other design experts from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center.
  • The chance to be a part of the design movement to improve privacy in public policy.
  • The opportunity to be a part of a grassroots community who cares about data privacy.

How to participate:

We’re excited to hear from you. Please fill out this form (should take ~5 minutes) with your brief idea. We will reach out with next steps to discuss how you would like to share your concept (quick prototype, sketch, or mockup, etc.). If you have any questions, please email Hong Qu at hong_qu@hks.harvard.edu.

Deadline: Monday February 25, 2019 at 5:00pm EST