University of Maryland

CSCW 2021 Workshop: Call for Participation

Designing for Data Awareness: Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns About “Smart” Technologies

Note: Due to various deadlines, we have extended the deadline for submitting position papers or statements of interest to September 10.


The internet of things (IoT) and smart home technologies are pervasive in the U.S. and abroad. Devices like smart speakers, cameras, thermostats, and vacuums promise to save consumers time and energy and to make tasks easier. Many devices also provide significant benefits through accessibility features that offer hands-free options, voice commands, and management through smartphone apps. At the same time, however, researchers and the media have documented a number of vulnerabilities in these devices, which raises concerns about what and how much data is being collected, how that data is used, and who has access to the data. In this one-day workshop, participants will work together to brainstorm potential solutions for making smart device data more visible and interpretable for consumers. Through rotating breakout sessions and full-group discussions, participants will identify data-based threats in popular smart home technologies, select data flows that are most concerning, and generate design ideas for tools or other artifacts that can help consumers make more informed decisions about using these devices. Opportunities for networking and future collaborations will also be incorporated.

Keywords: privacy, internet of things, IoT, smart homes, design

CSCW 2021 Homepage:

Download the full workshop overview paper here [PDF]

How to Attend

This one-day workshop will be held virtually the weekend before CSCW begins (on Sunday, October 24, 2021). You have two ways to participate:

  1. If you’re actively conducting research in this space and looking for feedback, you can submit a 2-4 page position paper (using the ACM Primary Article Template) that outlines your ongoing or proposed research idea or makes an argument for an approach, theory, or method to studying privacy in the context of IoT and smart homes. If accepted, we’ll share your position paper with all attendees prior to the workshop via Google Drive and allow other participants to comment on your work. You’ll also have 3-4 minutes to give a lightning talk during the workshop
  2. If you’re interested in attending but don’t have current work you want to share, you can submit a 1-page statement of interest that provides a brief background on your research and your interest in the workshop’s focus. These statements will also be shared in the Google Drive, but these participants will not give a lightning talk.

***Want to participate? Complete this Google Form by September 10, 2021.

The forms asks for some basic information about you and lets you upload your position paper OR statement of interest. Questions should be directed to networkedprivacy2021[at] (include “CSCW Smart Home Workshop” in the subject line). Accepted participants will be notified on September 15, 2021.


  • September 10, 2021: Position papers / statements of interest due
  • September 15, 2021:  Workshop acceptance notifications sent
  • October 4, 2021:  Google Drive shared with workshop attendees
  • October 24, 2021:  Date of workshop 
  • November 15, 2021:  Publish write-up/blog based on workshop outcomes

Workshop Overview

This is a one-day Zoom workshop, with full-group and breakout activities and regular breaks to minimize fatigue. Prior to the workshop, we will share a Google Drive and Slack workspace with all participants. The Drive will include position papers to allow participants to provide feedback on others’ work. The Slack is for the broader community of people doing research on networked privacy topics but will also have a channel specifically for this workshop. We’ll also use Miro boards (or a similar online brainstorming tool) for the design activities.

Below we provide an outline of the full workshop schedule (note: the final schedule will be shared with participants prior to the workshop). Bio breaks and networking opportunities will be interspersed throughout the event to minimize Zoom fatigue.

Introductions & Lightning Talks: We’ll open the workshop with introductions from the organizers and an overview of our plans for the day. We’ll share brief participant introductions, then let participants who submitted a position paper give a lightning talk about the research idea or project they want feedback on.

Panel discussion: We’ll hold a discussion with invited panelists to share their experiences and challenges in doing design work at the intersection of privacy and IoT.

Design Fiction & Speculative Design Activity: The primary goal of the workshop is to have participants identify creative design solutions to the privacy challenges raised by smart home technologies. To encourage participants to start thinking creatively about design, Richmond Wong will facilitate a design fiction activity to help the group explore and define this problem space. Participants will break into groups and be tasked with creating fictional stories and objects that capture some of the major privacy challenges raised by smart home technology. This activity will help participants craft a shared understanding of the problem space by depicting the situated everyday privacy experiences from the perspective of diverse stakeholders.

Designing for Visibility: We’ll begin our primary design activity with a short, full-group activity to brainstorm challenges related to smart speakers, which are especially important because they often serve as a hub for smart home ecosystems. Following this, we will break participants into groups based on areas of the home. Each group will be given a set of prompts that ask them to expand on the smart speaker discussion by identifying additional technologies that are specific to their assigned space, the potential data flows generated by those technologies, and potential privacy risks of those technologies. Once they have identified those risks, they will begin brainstorming potential design solutions that could respond to those risks. The groups will rotate multiple times during this process to allow for feedback and generating new design ideas.

Design Debrief / Next Steps / Wrap-up: Back as one group, we’ll ask each group to provide a short report on the design ideas generated during their session. During this reporting, organizers will map out the different ideas and themes connecting them on a shared whiteboard. Following this, we’ll discuss next steps for this research, opportunities for participants to get involved, and networking opportunities to keep connected with workshop participants and the broader community of privacy researchers.


  • Jessica Vitak, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Michael Zimmer, Department of Computer Science, Marquette University
  • Anna Lenhart, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Sunyup Park, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Richmond Y. Wong, Center for Long Term Cybersecurity, University of California Berkeley
  • Yaxing Yao, Department of Information Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • News

    July 2021: Vitak (along with Sarah Gilbert and Katie Shilton) published “Measuring Americans’ Comfort With Research Uses of Their Social Media Data” in the journal Social Media + Society.

    June 2021: Vitak and Zimmer had an extended abstract summarizing their workplace surveillance & COVID-19 work accepted to AoIR 2021.

    October 2020: Vitak and Zimmer published a study in First Monday on privacy concerns associated with the adoption of contact tracing apps.

    August 2020: Vitak & Zimmer were awarded a Rapid Response grant from SSRC to study how workplace surveillance is evolving due to COVID-19.

    January 2020: Vitak, Clegg, and Chetty were awarded a NSF Small grant for their work on developing privacy & security curriculum for elementary school children.

    May 2019: PhD student Kumar presented research from our kids’ safety project at CHI. The paper discusses how educators consider privacy and security when using digital technologies in the classroom. More info is here.

    March 2019: We won the Lee Dirks Award for Best Full Paper at the iConference! PhD student Liao was the lead author on the paper presenting survey results from our IPA study.