USERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF DATA OWNERSHIP, DATA STORAGE, AND THEIR LOCUS OF CONTROL OVER DATA GENERATED BY SMART PHONE APPLICATIONS
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When users don’t understand how their data is stored, managed, and deleted in the cloud, it can leave that data vulnerable to hacking, privacy breaches, and other losses. How aware are users of what data they have in their cloud or other locations? This thesis examines how centralized remote storage affects participants’ knowledge of and ability to control and delete their phone app data using qualitative semi-structured interviews with 16 adults in the Washington, DC area. Results indicate that many users, especially Android users, don’t know what data they have backed up, and don’t feel they have control or understanding of their cloud account. Some participants thought they could better control their data if they learned more technical skills, but felt too intimidated to try. These results have implications for designing more usable cloud storage, recovery and deletion for mobile devices.