December 14, 2021

Opportunity: R&D Program Support

Ginny Fahs

Ginny Fahs is Associate Director of Product R&D at CR Digital Lab, where she leads a team pioneering new ways for consumers to take control of their data and digital lives.

We’re seeking a professional with great communication skills and a passion for privacy to join the Digital Lab team on a short-term contract basis. This is a good opportunity for an early career technologist who wants to work on an experimental product, or a mid- or late- career professional looking to get experience in public interest technology for the first time.

Scope:

  • You will be supporting the launch of the Permission Slip app on iOS and designing a set of experiments around the California Consumer Privacy Act’s (CCPA) authorized agent provision. You can read about our past related work here.
  • As part of this overarching scope of work, you will communicate with Digital Lab staffers and involved consumers to plan, launch, and support a closed beta program for the Permission Slip app;
  • Draft outreach and respond to inbound inquiries from companies and consumers about CCPA data requests;
  • Gather and synthesize feedback from Beta testers about their experience using Permission Slip to send data requests;
  • Recommend process improvements and workflows to help Consumer Reports better send data requests for consumers at scale;
  • Recommend changes to in-app content and develop new content for the app based on learnings from closed beta;
  • Document program learnings for research and reporting purposes and carry out administrative and other tasks as required to sustain the Permission Slip service and facilitate R&D experimentation;
  • Provide updates in standing progress meetings and other meetings relevant to R&D programs.

 

Qualifications:

  • Prior experience working as a research assistant or on a product team
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Highly motivated and able to work independently
  • Proficient with technology and Google Suite applications
  • Sharp attention to detail and ability to multitask
  • Reliable, diligent, and professional
  • Curios about privacy, data rights, consumer protection, or public interest technology
  • Extra credit for Computer Science or App Development experience

This is a contract opportunity, working remotely. Time commitment is estimated at 20-30 hours per week.

Interested applicants should get in touch, explain their interest and qualifications and attach a resume or CV. To apply or request more information, contact digitallab@cr.consumer.org.

Background:

Consumer Reports is a trusted and nationally recognized non-profit with an 85 year history conducting policy work at the federal and state levels. The CR Digital Lab builds consumer power in the digital economy, integrating research, products and advocacy to tilt the marketplace towards fairness and safety for consumers.

U.S. consumers have little control over the collection and sale of their personal data, which leads to profiling, manipulation, price discrimination and other practices that cut against consumers’ best interests. Regulations such as California’s CCPA and Europe’s GDPR seek to restore power to individuals but depend on consumers’ ability to meaningfully exercise their data rights.

In 2018, CR helped pass the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Mid-2020, the CR Digital Lab conducted a participatory study to understand how the CCPA is working for consumers and learned just how tough it can be for Californians to use the privacy rights the CCPA grants.

Next, the Lab kicked off a year of R&D to explore what emergent, consumer-facing services might be possible under the CCPA. We launched two pilot programs focused on the CCPA’s “authorized agent” provision (§999.326.), which allows consumers to designate a third party to issue data requests to companies on their behalf.

We continue to lay practical foundations for consumer data control in the U.S. through new products and services that help consumers manage their data. The work is crucial because, without good tooling, even highly-engaged and interested consumers are unlikely to be able to control their data or benefit from the many hidden insights it contains.

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