Consent receipts: the future of data sharing?
Tatiana Styliari, PhD student in the Horizon Digital Economy CDT at Nottingham University, recently completed a summer internship at Digital Catapult. In this blog post, Tatiana talks about her experience working around consent receipts.
My journey with Digital Catapult started with pursuing a Computer Science PhD, a far cry from my social sciences background. I gained three academic supervisors from a variety of different disciplines (film studies, computer science, human-computer interaction) and two industrial partners: Broadway Cinema & Media Centre and Digital Catapult. After collaborating with them for two years, I decided that a summer internship at the Digital Catapult Centre would be a natural next step.
My three-month project was entitled “Researching transparency in data sharing practices: the case of a consent receipt” and was supervised by Michele Nati, Digital Catapult’s Lead Technologist in Personal Data & Trust. My work revolved around using many technical skills in areas including UX design, prototyping, qualitative research, privacy, personal data, and digital identity.
The project’s overarching aim was to increase people’s awareness, trust and control over the data they share. We wanted to help citizens understand why we capture their data, how it benefits them and evaluate the idea of a consent receipt. This is a receipt that tracks consent by making a record of it; just like a regular receipt is used to track money.
Consent receipts allow you to:
- Understand the data you share, where it goes, who has it and why
- Keep a proof of consent and enable consistent consent practices.
- Simplify terms and conditions.
Following this, we wanted to leverage the consent receipt standard to design and take to market a consumer-centric consent process, ultimately increasing consumers’ trust in organisations.
We implemented several research methods, from mapping visitors’ different experiences within the Digital Catapult Centre, to exploratory interviews with visitors to investigate what they value in terms of data capture. This led to our first prototype of a consent receipt.
We then refined this prototype further with visitors’ feedback, and conducted a participatory design workshop with 12 participants. It was vital that those participants were not previous visitors to the Digital Catapult Centre, so we could explore how people outside the Digital Catapult network viewed the consent receipt.
I was delighted to hear the outcomes of my internship project had led to an official Digital Catapult project, which is being piloted internally by a team of people I had the pleasure of collaborating with.
This experience not only gave me a successful project to add to my CV and helped me develop necessary skills and knowledge, but more importantly, introduced me to many people from different backgrounds and departments. These people, who were always willing to contribute their time and knowledge, welcomed me and helped me throughout every step.
I was also able to gain some industrial experience, learn how such a vivid business place works (the Digital Catapult Centre hosts over 100 visitors every day) and network with people related to digital innovation, the digital economy, blockchain, IoT and entrepreneurship. In other words, these are the people who are setting the foundations for our future.
Digital Catapult engages with many universities throughout the UK, but I was the first one to spend a three-month internship with them. I would highly recommend other PhD students to try an internship at Digital Catapult; it will be a unique and very useful experience that will boost your confidence as well as your CV, industrial experience, professional network and of course skills and knowledge.
Want to follow in Tatiana’s footsteps and intern at Digital Catapult? Check our Careers section for our latest vacancies.
Find out more about the work we’re doing in personal data by joining our Personal Data and Trust Network.