Augmented Reality’s Potential for Identifying and Mitigating Home Privacy Leaks


Users face various privacy risks in smart homes, yet there are limited ways for them to learn about the details of such risks, such as the data practices of smart home devices and their data flow. In this paper, we present Privacy Plumber, a system that enables a user to inspect and explore the privacy “leaks” in their home using an augmented reality tool. Privacy Plumber allows the user to learn and understand the volume of data leaving the home and how that data may affect a user’s privacy— in the same physical context as the devices in question, because we visualize the privacy leaks with augmented reality. Privacy Plumber uses ARP spoofing to gather aggregate network traffic information and presents it through an overlay on top of the device in an smartphone app. The increased transparency aims to help the user make privacy decisions and mend potential privacy leaks, such as instruct Privacy Plumber on what devices to block, on what schedule (i.e., turn off Alexa when sleeping), etc. Our initial user study with six participants demonstrates participants’ increased awareness of privacy leaks in smart devices, which further contributes to their privacy decisions (e.g., which devices to block).