Google Research

Tough Times at Transitional Homeless Shelters: Considering the Impact of Financial Insecurity on Digital Security and Privacy

Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Abstract

Addressing digital security and privacy issues can be particularly difficult for users who face challenging circumstances. We performed semi-structured interviews with residents and staff at 4 transitional homeless shelters in the U.S. San Francisco Bay Area (n=15 residents, 3 staff) to explore their digital security and privacy challenges. Based on these interviews, we outline four tough times themes -- challenges experienced by our financially insecure participants that impacted their digital security and privacy -- which included: (1) limited financial resources, (2) limited access to reliable devices and Internet, (3) untrusted relationships, and (4) ongoing stress. We provide examples of how each theme impacts digital security and privacy practices and needs. We then use these themes to provide a framework outlining opportunities for technology creators to better support users facing security and privacy challenges related to financial insecurity.

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