Columbia Engineering Researchers Develop XRay, First Step in Understanding How Personal Data Is Being Used on Web Services like Google, Amazon, and YouTube
The web can be an opaque black box: it leverages our personal information without our knowledge or control. When, for instance, a user sees an ad about depression online, she may not realize that she is seeing it because she recently sent an email about being sad. Roxana Geambasu and Augustin Chaintreau, both assistant professors of computer science at Columbia Engineering, are seeking to change that, and in doing so bring more transparency to the web. Along with their PhD student, Mathias Lecuyer, the researchers have developed XRay, a new tool that reveals which data in a web account, such as emails, searches, or viewed products, are being used to target which outputs, such as ads, recommended products, or prices.