Jul 22 – 28, 2020 Online Event
UTC timezone

I Spy with my Little iNaturalist: Open Data, Stalkerware, and Citizen Science

Jul 22, 2020, 4:45 PM
25 Minute Presentation Privacy and Security


Dr Kit Heintzman (Harvard University)


iNaturalist is an open source, open data tool that has been designed as a citizen scientist project, where everyday people take photos of animals and plants to be geolocated and taxonomy. Its data has been critical to biologists, environmentalists, museum curators, and educators, as well as those individuals learning how to see their environment in a whole new way. While iNaturalist designed to share is of the geolocation of the species, the open data function has all of the makings of stalkerware with regard to tracking an individual user's movements, down to street corners and times, making patterns of movement visible to a public. This leaves citizen scientists with ethical quandaries about the importance of geolocation for the project to work and their own privacy. On the design end, this quandary is most pressing with regard to how the tool could make users aware of this choice and its stakes.

Level of Difficulty Beginner

Primary author

Dr Kit Heintzman (Harvard University)

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