Privacy Assistant App Uses Machine Learning to Limit Smartphone Data Collection

Privacy Assistant

OK, your significant other won’t let you have a cute intern or nanny BUT how about a “Privacy Assistant”? Its not what you think (or wish), its an AI-based (artificial intelligence) app that can harness machine learning to let users control their data and manage ‘permissions’. Its like your own personal itty bitty smart robot watching out for you. Very nice.  You also can view a video about the project here on YouTube.
(Bill Taylor, CEO)

“Keeping track of the personal data your mobile apps are collecting, using, and sharing requires making sense of long, ambiguous, and often confusing privacy policies and permission settings. Now there’s an app for that.

Privacy Assistant, a creation of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, uses machine learning to give users more control over the information that the apps on their Android phones collect. It combines a user’s answers to several questions (for example, “In general, do you feel comfortable with finance apps accessing your location?”) with information it gleans from analyzing the apps on the user’s phone to make specific recommendations about how that person should manage permissions.

The app is available only for rooted devices, meaning their operating systems have been unlocked to allow for unapproved apps. But Norman Sadeh, a computer science professor who leads CMU’s Personalized Privacy Assistant Project, hopes that a major tech company will eventually see the technology as a way to differentiate itself from its competitors, and pave the way for it to become a mainstream tool.

Collection and analysis of user data for targeted advertising is growing more prevalent and sophisticated, and for many consumers it may as well happen in a black box. Most people don’t read privacy policies or pay close attention to app permissions, and even if they do, the language is often unhelpfully vague. According to recent research from Pew, 91 percent of U.S. adults believe that consumers have lost control of how companies collect and use personal information. If federal regulators continue to take a relatively hands-off approach to consumer privacy regulation, more people may turn to technologies like Privacy Assistant to help them maintain some level of control over their data…

Source: MIT Technology Review