Data Collection and Privacy

Learning Goal: I’m working on a computer science exercise and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.


  1. Choose an app that you use often on your phone (If you do not use any phone apps, then a service on the internet – not something like duck duck go.)
  2. Make a list of the data you think it collects and stores.
  3. Find the terms of service for that application. Make a list of the information the app actually collects and stores.
  4. How are the two lists different? Where did you think it was collecting more and where was it collecting less?
  5. Either in pairs or individually, go onto campus and find at least four different people to ask about their data. If you go in pairs, try to talk to at least six people. Here are some rules though.
    1. If someone does not want to talk to you, do not force them. Introduce yourself and let the person know you are collecting data for a class. Ask them if they have a few minutes to answer some questions. You can also let them know that they are free not to answer any questions.
    2. You cannot just speak with your friends.
    3. You will ask them if they will share certain types of data with you that is collected from the app of your choice. For example, if the app asks for location, ask them if they will share their location with you for the next 5 minutes. If the app stores images, ask them if they will send you the last picture that they took. Try to get them to actually provide the information. (It might be a good idea to start with information that is less invasive.)
    4. At the end, ask them if they use the app you chose and that it stores all of that data.
    5. Record the data for your assignment, or at least what types of information you were able to collect.
  6. Write a reflection on the experience. Did what you expect happen? Were there any differences between groups? We will discuss this as a class before you need to write everything so you can see a wider range of data.

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