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A privacy technologist turned writer sharing my insights on data privacy among other topics. Want more? Visit alexyswrites.com

I’m happiest in sweatpants

My dog Latty and I at Jemez Falls, New Mexico 2019.
My dog Latty and I at Jemez Falls, New Mexico 2019.

I’m Alexys or as my sixth grade teacher liked to call me “Alexis with a Y.”

West Virginia is my new home state where I live happily with my loving husband and our two dogs, Latty (short for Latitude) and Clemmy (short for Clementine).

My family moved to Colorado when I was ten, ending a decade of moving at the direction of the United States Military. My childhood wasn’t perfect, far from, but my family, especially my mom, providing loving soil for me and my brothers to grow into strong, independent humans.

I entered adulthood depleted and lacking self-worth. Not…


How smartphones erode the social norms that protect your privacy

A masked man surrounded by paparazzi
A masked man surrounded by paparazzi

A hotel janitorial employee recently made me uncomfortable. Each time I approached, he paused, mopping when I was within fifteen feet. Remaining silent behind his grin, he locked his eyes on me while I passed, only to return the polite “hello” I provided. His gaze lingered on me, I assume, even after I passed, as I never heard him resume mopping.

We stayed at this hotel for forty days awaiting the purchase of our home, providing ample opportunities to cross paths with this gentleman in the hallway or lobby. Each encounter mimicked the previous one.

I lack supporting evidence that…


A lesson executives can learn from SolarWinds’ response to its hack

Last week, former SolarWinds CEO pointed fingers at a former intern as the root cause of the company’s 2019 security breach. Intrigued by the CEO’s accusations, I wanted to understand how an intern could possibly be the culprit behind a breach that gave hackers access to 18,000 government and company systems. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the intern’s fault.

A Quick Review of the Recent SolarWinds Hack

SolarWinds provides IT service management to its customers, which includes high-profile clients, including Fortune 500 companies, and multiple US government agencies. They build many of their solutions on a standard technology called the SolarWinds Orion Platform (“Orion”).

In September 2019, SolarWinds’ systems…


Exploring your privacy risks after Google acquires Fitbit

A dumpter with a quote that reads “I though you were special…I though you should know…”
A dumpter with a quote that reads “I though you were special…I though you should know…”

Privacy experts quivered from Google’s 2019 announcement of its intent to acquire Fitbit. Allowing an advertising giant to possess the health and wellness data of over 25 million people across 100 countries is quite terrifying.

We’ve learned a lot over the past year while this acquisition went through regulator scrutiny to answer this $2.1 billion privacy question: is it time to ditch your Fitbit?

Why is Google’s acquisition of Fitbit concerning?

Inherent risks exist when you wear an Internet-connected fitness device regardless of who owns the device. You’re sharing health and wellness data, and often location data, with a technology company who may misuse your data.

Any…


New found treasure

Cultural Prompt: “Expressing Positive Changes Emerging After Our Lives Were Disconnected Physically from Our Pre-Covid-19 Lifestyles”


When in doubt, avoid opt-out.

A broken manniquin lays on a sidewalk.
A broken manniquin lays on a sidewalk.

One design decision can negatively shift the public’s perception of your new product. A reality Amazon’s currently living.

Amazon recently announced Sidewalk, a shared network feature for Echo and Ring devices in the United States. It allows your neighbors to automatically share their home network with your Amazon devices and vise versa. Users benefit because Sidewalk simplifies new device setup, extends the low-bandwidth working range of devices, and helps devices stay online even if they are outside the range of their home WiFi.

But Sidewalk has one significant design flaw.

Amazon Sidewalk is turned on by default

Amazon’s choice to use an opt-out consent model for Sidewalk…


Exploring privacy in a circular economy

A girl standing in front of a gray wall painted with a large black circle
A girl standing in front of a gray wall painted with a large black circle

Earth is dying one credit card transaction at a time. We’ve all read the articles, watched the documentaries — we know our consumption habits are killing dear Mother.

For decades, we’ve band-aided our planet’s wounds with recycling programs and slightly greener technologies. We need a better strategy like shifting to sustainable economy.

But will we have to sacrifice our privacy to save the planet?

Experts advocate for a circular economy

Our current economy is (mostly) linear. We take goods from the earth to make products. We use the products for a while before disposing of them, creating pollution throughout the product lifecycle. …


A poem

Sunlight shines on a pink flower.
Sunlight shines on a pink flower.

A somber call turned light
into darkness.
The scan revealed a life changed,
her doctor doubtless.

Her tingling feet sway,
each step provoking demons.
Pleads flow to the Gods,
bartering with acts of treason.

The darkness holds a brush
painting the world gray.
Self-loss a constant torment,
the emotion she cannot convey.

Committed to recover joy,
she battled an internal war.
Light now shines brighter,
she lives a life to adore.

Thank you to Francine Fallara at Blue Insights for this cultural prompt: “Learning to tame your grays between the dark and the fake…”


Some days I don’t want to be in my body

If you could be any animal, what would you choose? Five years ago, I’d answer a house cat. Embodying a cat would melt my stress away, allowing for lazy days basking in the sun beaming through my owner’s windows.

Now, I want to be a flatworm. (Yes, insects are animals).

My day-to-day would be weird, sure. But flatworms have pluripotent stem cells. These particular stem cells give flatworms regenerative abilities, allowing them to regrow any part of their body, even their heads. This power would change my life.

Instead of the scarred neurons littered throughout my brain and spinal cord…


A PIA creates a plan to operationalize Privacy by Design

A woman holds art in front of her face. The art is four squares of varying blue shades.
A woman holds art in front of her face. The art is four squares of varying blue shades.

As a UX professional, it’s your responsibility to meet your users’ privacy needs, values, and expectations when designing products that collect or process personal information. Privacy experts advocate that adhering to Privacy by Design (PbD) principles ensures your embedding privacy into the technology.

But as a designer, you need more than guiding concepts to consider when designing your product. You need a tool to quickly identify the users’ privacy and turn the PbD principles into specific features.

A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is one tool that will help you operationalize Privacy by Design.

What is a Privacy Impact Assessment?

A PIA is a privacy risk assessment…

Alexys Carlton

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