Blase Ur – User-Centered Privacy and Transparency about Online Tracking

November 10, 6pm, online

Please Register


Internet companies track users’ online activity to infer their interests, which are then used for targeted advertising. Existing privacy tools give users an incomplete picture of such tracking. We are working to design more usable and informative privacy tools. First, I will present Tracking Transparency, our browser extension that visualizes long-term, longitudinal information that trackers could have inferred from users’ browsing. In a field study, 425 participants used the extension for a week and gained more accurate perceptions of the extent of tracking. Second, I will discuss how, leveraging recent privacy laws, we gained a deeper understanding of the targeting advertising ecosystem by having 231 participants make access requests for their own Twitter data. We found that many targeting mechanisms ignored by prior work are widely used on Twitter, and participants found these understudied practices among the most privacy-invasive. Participants also found ad explanations designed for our study more useful and more comprehensible than Twitter’s current ad explanations.


Blase Ur is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. He studies computer security, privacy, and human-computer interaction. He has received three best paper awards (CHI 2017, USENIX Security 2016, and UbiComp 2014) and three honorable mention awards (CHI 2020, CHI 2016, and CHI 2012). His research has been covered in the NY Times, Forbes, and Ars Technica. He received the 2020 Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence, the 2018 SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award, the 2018 IEEE Cybersecurity Award for Practice, and a Fulbright scholarship. He holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University (PhD and MS) and Harvard University (AB).


  • 6-6:30pm: Networking via virtual whiteboard and zoom
  • 6:30pm: Presentation
  • 7:30pm: Q&A


We will be using:

  • A Zoom meeting for the event
  • A Miro virtual whiteboard during the pre-talk networking

Links for both the Zoom meeting and the Miro whiteboard will be sent to registered attendees.


Thank you to our generous sponsor!