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Taking control in the operating system

Brussels Design Jam
11th Dec 2018
Taking desktop browser privacy patterns and translating them for mobile provides us with an interesting challenge. How might we embed privacy choices at the operating system level, as opposed to being held within a single app?

Problem & Opportunity

While it's important that people understand how cookies work and have meaningful choices about them, just about everyone agrees that cookie banners aren’t the best way to promote this understanding and choice. Which alternatives can be found to give people a more general level of control, and still be able to decide from time to time which type of cookies will be used to improve a specific experience?

The cross-functional Design Jam team members challenged themselves to consider how they might transfer a browser solution from the web into settings for a mobile operating system.

How might we...

...enable people to see the cookies that are operating on their devices and make changes

Design Features
Privacy tracking control panel

The team designed a privacy and tracking feature that could be added to the phone's settings in the form of a control panel. The service works by letting people see an overview of the websites and apps that collect cookies so they can more easily keep track and manage consent. Granular control is made possible by providing the option to select how, and for how long, cookies will be used.

OSSetup Brussels2017 granularityofcontrolGIF
Design Features
Understanding ad-serving based on your personal data

When people are browsing on their mobile device they will see contextualised overlays based on their OS settings:

  • Tip - An information icon located in the bottom corner of each advert gives people the option to go from the browser to the privacy control panel in their operating system's settings. The tip notes: 'Your Privacy & Tracking settings are allowing us to see your content preferences.' A person can touch 'Okay, got it' or 'Change Settings,' which will navigate them to the OS level Privacy & Tracking settings to make changes
  • Thank You! - The overlay states what content is made available by enabling personalised ads - 'We were able to show you this content for free because you allowed personalised ads'
  • Sorry :( - 'Your cookie parental controls are preventing us from showing you this content until you are 16'
OSSetup Brussels2017 contextualGIF
Next steps

The ideas for cookie controls are timely with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ePrivacy Regulation approaching. Turning good regulatory intentions, around the use of marketing technologies, into meaningful and effective features requires further innovative thinking.