This extension implements a user study. It collects web usage data and snapshots of web pages from your browser.
This extension implements a user study being conducted by researchers at Northeastern University. If you choose to participate, this browser extension will collect three types of data from your browser.
The decision to participate in this research project is voluntary. You do not have to participate, and there is no penalty if you choose not to participate in this research or if you choose to stop participating. You may choose to stop participating at any time, and you may request that we delete all data collected from your browser.
# What Data Does This Extension Collect?
The extension collects three types of data from your browser:
1. Activity Data includes a record of the websites visited by participants, which browser tab was active, playback of media elements like video and audio, and “presence detection” to determine if the web browser is in active use by a human.
2. Webpage Snapshots include copies of the HTML displayed to participants in their web browser from a selection of websites.
3. Embedded Content includes copies of specific content from websites visited by participants. For example, embedded content might include banner advertisements, social media posts and widgets, or text containing particular keywords.
Additionally, if you choose to participate, you will be asked to take a survey in which we ask you several questions about your demographics, web usage, and media preferences. These survey data, as well as those mentioned above, will be used to analyze your online experiences.
# How Will Data Be Used and Protected?
Data collected by the Observatory browser extension will be shared with academic researchers and journalists, who may use the data to study how people behave online and how online platforms structure what people see. Individual-level data will never be shared with anyone else (except as required by law). Aggregate scientific data may be shared publicly, which minimizes the possibility that study participants may be re-identified.
We assign a pseudonymous identifier to each participant. All data that is collected from our survey and from participants’ browsers will be stripped of personally identifiable information to the best of our ability.
Academic researchers and journalists will be given access to Observatory data in a secure “clean room” environment. They will only be able to analyze data within this environment, and the data cannot leave the environment. This environment will be operated and maintained by the Observatory. Academic researchers and journalists will access the environment remotely once they have applied for access, been approved for access, and been authenticated.
This study is approved by the Institutional Review Board at Northeastern University.
# Setting Up This Extension
After installing the extension, you will need to sign-up for our study. Click the extension’s button in your browser’s toolbar, then click the “Signup” link to begin the consent process.
If you have already consented to our study, click the extension’s button in your browser’s toolbar, then enter your email address to log in.
Detailed instructions for installing and using our browser extension can be found here: https://nationalinternetobservatory.org/browser-extension-guide.html
# More Information
The study website is available at: https://nationalinternetobservatory.org/
Study Participant FAQ: https://nationalinternetobservatory.org/faq.html
# Version History
1.0.5 - Added search engine snapshots
1.0.4 - Bugfixes
1.0.3 - Bugfixes
1.0.2 - Ability to view snapshot collectors in the pop-up menu; updates for consent flow
0.9.3 - Initial release