Developing a Project Management Tool for Network Migration to Improve Transparency between Enterprises and Network Experts; Cookie Banner Burn-out: A Case Study Analysis of Changing Personal Data Protection Legislation in the European Union

Goggins, Eliza, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Gerling, Gregory, EN-SIE, University of Virginia

My technical project is titled “Developing a Project Management Tool for Network Migration to Improve Transparency Between Enterprises and Network Experts.” This project focuses on creating a user interface which facilitates the set-up of a cloud-based network. More broadly, the project falls into the category of user interaction and user experience (UI/UX). Because of my technical project’s focus in UI/UX, I wanted to explore a related concept in my STS research paper. I started with exploring the ethics of e-commerce websites and the manipulative design techniques they use, focusing specifically on how elderly users are affected by such techniques. However, this research area proved to be too limited. During the initial research process, my interest was piqued by a research area which overlapped with that of manipulative design techniques: personal data privacy. Thus, I pivoted to researching the personal data privacy landscape in the European Union and produced a thesis paper titled “Cookie Banner Burn-out: A Case Study Analysis of Changing Personal Data Protection Legislation in the European Union.”

A large part of my year-long technical project involved my group familiarizing ourselves with the domain of cloud-networking and network migration. The client for my project was a large, public-domain information technology (IT) company which sells network automation software to companies of all sizes. In order to utilize this network automation software, however, companies must transition their physical network (consisting of hardware such as servers, computers, printers as well as software) to a virtualized cloud network. This process, known as network migration, is no easy task. It involves thoroughly understanding the current network, configuring numerous settings, and troubleshooting unexpected issues upon cutover to the cloud. Many companies, especially small and medium enterprises, do not internally employ a network engineer capable of performing migration to the cloud. Furthermore, because migration is completed only once, the time and capital required internally to research and learn the process is prohibitive. Thus, a professional network engineer, acting as a consultant, is often utilized. The deliverable of my technical project was a user interface that facilitated communication and knowledge transfer between an enterprise client and a hired network engineer. In doing so, the interface introduces three important features: a task-based structure that centralizes resources, a graphical map for evaluating the status of dependent tasks, and embedded learning resources for furthering networking knowledge.

When first developing my research question, I wanted to explore the ethical relationship between one who designs a website or application, a UI/UX designer, and the user which will use their design. One important aspect of this relationship is the transfer of data between the two-parties. In completing preliminary research, I learned about the many ways in which personal data is collected and utilized by websites. Websites profit off of personal data collection and users are often not given the option to refuse the use of their data. The European Union is paving the way for stricter legislation against the inappropriate and nonconsensual use of personal data. In 2018, the UK passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is often cited as the most comprehensive piece of legislation regarding privacy. One of the most visible impacts of the GDPR was the increased presence of “cookie banners”, which were aimed at giving users more control over the data that was collected as they browsed, allowing them to “Accept” or take alternative action. My STS research paper explores the landscape of data privacy in the European Union, looking at human and non-human actors such as internet users, website owners and designers, Content Management Providers (CMPs), lawmakers and changing legislation.

The dual work on my technical project and STS research paper this year was an apt culmination of my engineering education. The technical project challenged my ability to problem solve in a professional environment, navigate roadblocks and adapt with incomplete information. On the other hand, the research project tested my analytical reasoning and succinct writing skills. I would like to thank my technical project team — Courtney Kennedy, Cecilia Smith, Ashley Rissmeyer, Aishwarya Pore and Mackenzie Nguyen — as well as my project advisor, Gregory Gerling, for their hard work and support throughout the year. Furthermore, I would like to thank Joshua Earle for challenging the way I think about ethics and sociotechnical systems.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Data Privacy, Case Study, General Data Protection Regulation, User Experience Design

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering
Technical Advisor: Gregory Gerling
STS Advisor: Joshua Earle
Technical Team Members: Cecilia Smith, Courtney Kennedy, Aishwarya Pore, Mackenzie Nguyen, Ashley Rissmeyer, Cecilia Smith

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