Faculty Candidate Seminar

Protecting User Privacy by Helping Developers

Tianshi LiPh.D. CandidateCarnegie Mellon University
3725 Beyster BuildingMap

Zoom link for remote participants, passcode:  438524


Abstract:  Data has driven many technological advancements, while the ubiquitous collection and sharing of data has caused a privacy trust crisis in our society. Developers play a critical role in making apps that respect user privacy, yet many lack the necessary awareness, knowledge, and time to ensure their apps meet privacy requirements. How can we support average developers (who are oftentimes not privacy experts) in building privacy-friendly apps? In this talk, I will discuss how my research at the intersection of Privacy, HCI, and Software Engineering is engaging developers to better protect user privacy. I will talk about two main threads of my work: (1) empirical HCI studies to identify the challenges developers face in handling privacy requirements, and (2) system building work to tackle the identified challenges by building IDE plugins and breaking down privacy responsibilities (e.g., creating accurate privacy nutrition labels) into lightweight code annotating tasks. My tools have been released on the JetBrains plugin marketplace and used by real-world developers, attracting interest from industry, and I have strived to make an impact on the policy making process as well. In the final remarks, I will discuss my future research agenda of creating a safe and trustworthy world by helping developers.


Bio:  Tianshi Li is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, advised by Prof. Jason Hong. Her main research interest lies at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, Security and Privacy, and Software Engineering. Before coming to CMU, she received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Peking University. She interned at Google during her Ph.D. study, working on research about novel mobile text entry techniques and intelligent notification management systems. Her work has been published at top-tier venues (CHI, CSCW, IMWUT, TOCHI) and has won a best paper honorable mention award at ACM CHI 2022. She was awarded a CMU CyLab Presidential Fellowship in 2021 and named an EECS Rising Star in 2022.


Cindy Estell

Student Host

Xinyue Chen

Faculty Host

Anhong Guo