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Title:Examining older users’ online privacy-enhancing experience from a human-computer interaction perspective
Author(s):Huang, Hsiao-Ying
Director of Research:Bashir, Masooda
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bashir, Masooda
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Borisov, Nikita; Rogers, Wendy; Twidale, Michael
Department / Program:Graduate College Programs
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Human-Computer Interaction
Privacy-enhancing technologies
Information privacy
Empirical study
Abstract:The advancement of Internet technologies, including instant and unlimited access to information and services, has been an excellent source of support for older adults. However, pervasive and continuous online tracking can pose severe threats to older adults’ information privacy. Surprisingly, very few empirical studies have focused on older users’ online privacy-enhancing experience from a Human-Computer Interaction perspective. Therefore, it remains unclear how older users protect their online information privacy and what factors influence their online behaviors. Thus, my thesis aims to study older users’ online privacy-enhancing experience by examining the following questions: 1) what older users know and do to protect their online information privacy, 2) how their emotional state influences their adoption of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), and 3) what usability challenges they encounter while using one of the most popular PETs currently available to the public. To examine these questions, a diverse set of empirical approaches was adopted, including a survey, a quasi-experiment, and a usability study. My research findings suggest that three are three elements that play a crucial role in older users' online privacy-enhancing practices. First, older users' knowledge of online privacy has a significant influence on their daily online privacy protection behaviors. In addition, there seems to be a privacy knowledge gap among older users that reveals the phenomenon of ‘Privacy Divide.' Second, the design of privacy-enhancing features affects older users’ emotional state and their attitudes regarding their future adoption of the tool. Third, the findings of usability study indicate that the current design of a privacy- enhancing browsing tool, Tor Browser, poses particular challenges for older users. For instance, the technical terminologies and recurring warning messages have made Tor Browser more difficult for older users to use. These usability challenges not only decrease older users’ satisfaction in but also deter their future adoption of the tool. Therefore, it is crucial that current design of PETs considers older users’ needs. My thesis research contributes to the privacy literature in several ways. First of all, this is the first empirical research examining older users’ actual online privacy protection behaviors. In addition, this thesis includes the very first empirical study that illustrate the importance of the role of emotion in users’ adoption of a privacy-enhancing tool. Furthermore, this thesis provides usability recommendations that can improve the current design of Tor Browser for older user audiences. As the world's aging population continues to grow and advances in Internet technologies progress rapidly, the design of future technologies, from smart homes to self-driving cars, has to adopt user-centered approach, which consider end-users' needs of all age groups. Also, information privacy has become a significant aspect in our digital world, which makes the design of user-friendly privacy-enhancing tools an essential mission ahead of us. Moreover, knowledge and awareness are a key factor in older users’ online privacy- enhancing practices. Henceforth, creating educational programs for older adults is extremely important in protecting their online privacy.
Issue Date:2019-03-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Hsiao-Ying Huang
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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