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Privacy Protective Behavior and “The Biggest Lie on the Internet” with Dr. Jonathan Obar, York University

Via Zoom | RSVP Here | or email

When ignoring service terms and agreement implications, people contribute to an internet meme known as “the biggest lie on the internet” (said to be “I agree to the terms and conditions”). This talk will review research unpacking the meme. This includes survey research addressing policy ignoring behaviors, analyses of the length/complexity of service terms, and clickwrap user interface designs. Findings suggest deceptive designs like the clickwrap, and long/complicated policies contribute to ignoring behaviours. Findings also suggest privacy protective behaviors are viewed as tangential to service use goals. This is problematic as online consent processes are viewed internationally as fundamental to information protections.

The presentation will include a tour of, a knowledge mobilization effort led by Dr. Obar, funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The site includes resources for students and other stakeholders to support engagement with meaningful online consent research and advocacy.

Dr. Jonathan Obar, PhD is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at York University. He also serves as a Research Fellow with the Quello Center. He researches and teaches about information policy, with a focus on relationships between digital technologies, civil liberties, and the inclusiveness of public cultures. Recent academic publications address big data and privacy, corporate transparency, deceptive user-interface designs, and online consent processes.

Dr. Obar previously served as a Research Fellow with the public policy think tank the New America Foundation and the media reform organization Free Press, and as a Senior Advisor to the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Education Program. He has an M.A. in Media Studies from Syracuse University and a PhD in Mass Communications from Penn State University.

A special thank you to MSU’s Valeta Wensloff for supporting the graphic and site design!