How safe is your personal data? How do you know? With our various connected devices, our extensive browsing histories and all the apps running on our smartphones, it's hard to keep tabs on the details we might be making available willingly or unwittingly. An EU-funded project has set out to help people monitor and control their privacy online.
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The Privacy Flag project, launched in May 2015 for three years, is developing a privacy monitoring and protection solution to help citizens keep their personal data safe. One of this solution's key features is that it will highlight the level of risk to users' privacy in a variety of situations.
More specifically, the system involves three tools intended for citizens - a browser add-on, an app, and a website accessible via another app. They are designed, respectively, for use on computers, on smartphones, and in locations where systems have been deployed as part of the Internet of Things (IoT), in view of the development of smart cities. The Privacy Flag system will include monitoring agents to detect suspicious activity, privacy enablers to counter traffic monitoring and fingerprinting, and a risk assessment tool based on European norms on personal data protection.
The proposed solution will build on technical know-how, legal expertise, and the power of the collective: crowdsourcing is a cornerstone of the approach championed by Privacy Flag. The project's various tools draw on a knowledge database to which users are invited to contribute their own assessments of sites, apps and IoT-enabled settings.
Further activity in the project focuses on collaboration with standardisation bodies, and on ways to support businesses and other stakeholders that wish to upgrade their practices with regard to privacy. Objectives in this area encompass a voluntary compliance commitment tool, as well as activities to explore the potential for a privacy labelling and certification process.