Personal Privacy in the Digital Age

I'm actually here today to receive the "Most Creative Use of Tor" Award...
(Describing 'the pregnancy experiment' at Theorizing the Web 2014)

I'm well known for taking unusual steps in my digital life to explore alternatives to big data collection, tracking, and the "personalized web." My experiment to keep information about my pregnancy away from detection went viral in 2014, perhaps because it turned out to be so difficult to do! What most people don't know is -- I've kept it up.

I've been a conscientious objector to Google since they changed their privacy policies in 2012. I haven't used their products since! I have also experimented with more phone operating systems than most people have even heard of, often hacking or building my own phones; and I maintain many of my own digital systems at home. Recently, I built a personal voice assistant that doesn't send my data to the cloud.

I write for the public and for enthusiasts at The Opt Out Project" online,, where you're likely to find ideas, tips, tools, and hard-earned experience about how to live without Big Tech while staying emphatically on the grid.

Academically, I use the insights I glean from living digitally, differently, to think forward about new research, policy, and design approaches to ethical issues in technology. I've worked with scholars at Princeton, the Data & Society Institute, Yahoo!, IT University Copenhagen, and University of California, Irvine on various studies of personal data privacy. This has resulted in papers and talks at conferences from Theorizing the Web to the flagship ACM CHI conference on human-computer interaction, as well as numerous opinion pieces and interviews with media online and offline.

Key Publications


Data-Free Disney, Public Books January 31, 2023


Fairness and Abstraction in Sociotechnical Systems with Andres Selbst, danah boyd, Sorelle Friedler, and Suresh Venkatasubramanian

Proceedings of the first ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Algorithms (FAT*), Vol. 1, No. 1


Data Narratives: Uncovering tensions in personal data management with Joseph Kaye, Samantha Jarosweski, Vera Kovanskaya, and Jenna Song.

ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Co-operative Work, pp. 478-490.


The Values of Data: Considering the Context of Production in Data Economies with Paul Dourish

ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Co-operative Work, 533-542.


“The Commodification of Location: Dynamics of Power in Location-Based Systems, with Irina Shlokovski, Irina, Emily Troshynski, and Paul Dourish

ACM Conference on Ubiquitous Computing Systems, pp. 11-20.