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Websites Need Your Permission Too – User Sentiment and Decision Making on Web Permission Prompts in Desktop Chrome

Marian Harbach
CHI 2024, ACM (to appear)


The web utilizes permission prompts to moderate access to certain capabilities. We present the first investigation of user behavior and sentiment of this security and privacy measure on the web, using 28 days of telemetry data from more than 100M Chrome installations on desktop platforms and experience sampling responses from 25,706 Chrome users. Based on this data, we find that ignoring and dismissing permission prompts are most common for geolocation and notifications. Permission prompts are perceived as more annoying and interrupting when they are not allowed, and most respondents cite a rational reason for the decision they took. Our data also supports that the perceived availability of contextual information from the requesting website is associated with allowing access to a requested capability. More usable permission controls could facilitate adoption of best practices that address several of the identified challenges; and ultimately could lead to better user experiences and a safer web.