Friday, October 27, 2023

Learn more about Maaz and his research in this Q&A and consider attending 3MT competition and supporting him!

The event will be held from 1-3pm at Art Building West on Friday, Nov. 10 and is open to the entire UI community.

What is the topic of your Three Minute Thesis?

My topic for the 3MT is "Unveiling the Digital Veil: Empowering Transparency and Accountability in Online Privacy."

Illustration used as part of Maaz' 3MT presentation entitled "Unveiling the Digital Veil: Empowering Transparency and Accountability in Online Privacy"

What inspired you to pursue this topic?

When I started my PhD, I took a few courses on online tracking and advertising. In these courses, I learned the importance of online privacy and the lack of awareness surrounding it. This motivated me to work on a research project with a senior to get a better understanding of the problem and from there I have been exploring transparency and accountability in the online world and how it can improve online privacy.

Why is this topic important?

This topic is important because it is less popular but at the same time has equally dangerous consequences. People usually are very concerned about their online security and changing their passwords. However, online privacy is brushed off as something not important. However, I will talk about this in my talk as well, that lack of online privacy can lead to benign consequences such as personalized advertising, or it can also lead to racial discrimination and sexual harassment.

Musa was previously recognized as a runner-up for the PETs Andreas Pfitzmann Best Student Paper Award at PETS 2022: The 22nd Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium for his paper entitled “ATOM: A Generalizable Technique for Inferring Tracker-Advertiser Data Sharing in the Online Behavioral Advertising Ecosystem.” PETS brings together privacy experts from around the world to discuss research in privacy-enhancing technologies.

Additionally, Musa will be one of four Ph.D. speakers featured at the Department of Computer Science’s 2023 Prospective Student Visit Day and Graduate Research Symposium. Maaz’s talk, will also highlight his research in equipping users with the ability to control their online data. An early "Unveiling the Digital Veil" illustration is also a contender for “Capture Your Research Image Competition” accolade: consider voting here!

Maaz Musa portrait - submitted