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Parting the Cloud: Empowering End-Users through Internet Transparency

Date and Time
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
CS Department Colloquium Series
Prof. David Dobkin

Marshini Chetty
Why is my Internet slow? Why have I run out of data again? Is my thermostat talking to strangers? Internet users face seemingly simple questions like these every time they connect to the Internet with increasingly significant consequences for inaccurate information. Yet, as networks, applications, and devices proliferate and become more complex, questions like these are getting harder to answer. I study, design, build, and evaluate technologies to help users answer these questions, by improving the “transparency” of the networks, applications, and networked devices used to get online. My research goal is to empower Internet users by providing them with accurate and real-time information about, and control over, Internet performance, costs, privacy, and security. By doing so, my work gives Internet users the power to make well-informed decisions and agency for protecting themselves against and holding others accountable for online malfeasance. My research informs Internet policy by providing evidence of what kinds of transparency Internet users require and respond to. In this talk, I describe why Internet transparency is so important and how challenging it is to provide transparency to end-users. I present three projects that make Internet costs, online privacy and security, and Internet constraints more transparent for end-users. These projects include a system for giving adult users information and control over home broadband data usage, a prototype for helping elementary school age children learn about and manage their own Internet safety, and a mixed method approach for understanding how Internet constraints affect end-users in developing countries. I conclude the talk with open questions for making the Internet more transparent for end-users.

Marshini Chetty is a research scholar in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University where she directs the Princeton Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory. She specializes in human-computer interaction, usable security, and ubiquitous computing.  Marshini designs, implements, and evaluates technologies to help users manage different aspects of Internet use from performance, costs to privacy and security. She often works in resource-constrained settings and uses her work to help inform Internet policy. She has a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and a Masters and Bachelors in Computer Science from University of Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to joining Princeton, Marshini was an assistant professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work on creating consumer-facing tools for monitoring Internet speeds won a CHI best paper award; her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency, Intel, Microsoft, and two Google Faculty Research Awards.

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