Researchers raise awareness about privacy risks of APIs

By | February 6, 2019
profile of person's head and lock surrounded by computing devices
(Michigan News)

Search the web for information about what to feed your new puppy, and you’ll soon start receiving ads from pet food companies. Or read an article about a cruise ship, and you’ll start seeing vacation travel offers in your news feed. This monitoring of online activity might be off-putting for some, but research shows that many of us accept, and even appreciate, these invasions of privacy in exchange for the convenience of technology.

Florian Schaub, assistant professor at the U-M School of Information, is co-author of a new report, “APIs and Your Privacy.” He hopes to help the public better understand how Application Programming Interfaces allow data sharing that leaves us vulnerable to breaches like those recently making news at Facebook and Google.

“It seems no day goes by without hearing about a new data breach or unexpected sharing of personal data. APIs play an important role in many of those cases as well as in our digital economy,” Schaub said. “Our goal with this report is to help consumers and policy makers understand what APIs are, what APIs companies offer, and what the privacy implications of APIs are.”