DTL Hack Day

A 12 hours hack day to work together on building tools that help educating users on the importance of privacy and transparency

Saturday 19th November 2016 — Columbia University, NY, United States

The Data Transparency Lab is hosting, collocated with DTL 2016 conference a 12-hours hack day. The hack day main topic is “User Education on Privacy and Transparency”. If you have any idea to help users understand why they should care about privacy and why they should demand online services to be more transparent you shouldn’t miss this event!

The output of a hack should be a tool, but a tool in this context goes beyond apps or plugins as there are many other alternative ways to help end-users:


We are looking for apps (mobile app, browser plugin, web site, etc.) that let users understand the privacy implications of actions they do.


We have access to multiple sources of data that could be useful to users, we are looking for ways to create impactful visualizations that raise awareness on privacy/transparency.


We are also looking for material (websites, videos, comics, etc.) that can be used in an innovative way to communicate adequately the need for privacy and transparency.


Hack Ideas

Don't have any idea about a hack that could fit into the Hack Day main theme? No worries! We have a list of potential challenges and ideas that you can hack on! Check the list below:

Raising Awareness of Personal Information Leaks

Northeastern University has been running ReCon project with the target of identifying which mobile apps are leaking Personal Information, which type of information it’s leaked and what are the destinations of that info. We want you to create different tools that leverage the insights discovered by this project.

More details

Privacy Census

Thanks to a Princeton project named Privacy Census, we can now understand how extended are tracking techniques over the web, including advanced ones such as fingerprinting. However, this information might be difficult to process and understand for the average user. We are looking for ways to communicate this appropriately to end-users so they can understand what are those techniques, how are they used and how do they affect them.

More details

How much are you worth for Facebook?

Facebook Data Valuation Tool is a Browser plugin that has been developed by Carlos III University. The plugin shows end-user an estimation of the value they are generating to Facebook based on her browsing activity (i.e. the ads she watches and clicks on).

More details

How much is my data worth?

During the last year, people have started to be aware of the importance of personal data for Internet companies. However, it’s not clear how much value do they have for those companies. We thinks users would love a way to calculate how much they are worth, taking into account the type of data, the specific data and the potential number of similar users.

More details

How revealing my public information can be?

Many people unknowingly volunteer sensitive personal information and fail to restrict access to it. This kind of information is analytically valuable to both data brokers and exploitation value to attackers. The idea is raising awareness of the potential danger it has for users.

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Parent Child Education Challenge

Tracking mechanisms often can’t separate child and adult activity, putting children at risk for targeted advertising and analytics. Younger generations also tend to have a much larger “digital footprint”, often increasing their risk of identity theft and cyberstalking. There’s no technical “silver bullet” for these complex issues, so educating parents and children is key to improving their cyber safety.

More details

Education and Raising Awareness on 3rd Party Tracking behind websites and apps

Average user don’t usually understand what is really going on when they browse a Web Site or when they use an application in their smartphone. Every time they do such a simple action, many third parties are involved, and in most of the situations, all of them try to track them.

More details

Tools to bring transparency to targeted advertising

Targeted advertising has been the focus of much research effort, mostly dedicated to optimizing the strategies for targeting users. As a consequence, it has increased online advertising revenues significantly. However, it has also been raising more and more concerns from users, who often feel that it constitutes an invasion of their privacy. In particular, users often wonder “why am I being shown this ad?” or similar questions. EURECOM Institute and MPI-SWS, have been conducting an study on how to provide answers to such questions, in a privacy sensitive way. To this extent the following following would be useful:

More details

You can check a detailed list of these ideas but you are free to bring your own idea. Furthermore, do you have an idea for a project that you want the hackers to work in? Please send us an e-mail so we can include it in the list of challenges for hackers!


We will provide the best ideas the possibility to use DTL Communication channels and share the work done.

Apart from that, at the end of the session the following prizes will be awarded:

Main Prizes

1st Prize - $1600

2nd Prize - $1200

3rd Prize - $600

Sponsor Prizes

Best Social Impact - $400

Most creative and user-friendly - $400

Biggest privacy protection impact - $400

Judging Criteria

Hacks will be judged based on the criteria below and weighted accordingly

Originality - 25%

Look & Feel - 25%

Technical Complexity - 25%

Does it work? - 25%


08:00 AM - Doors Open

09:00 AM - Intro // Kick-off

09:30 AM - Idea Pitches and Team Formation

10:30 AM - Hack!

12:30 PM - Lunch!

01:30 PM - Hack!

06:45 PM - Show and Tell!

07:45 PM - Judges Evaluation!

08:15 PM - Prizes and Closing!


Columbia University, New York, NY 94110

The Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research (CEPSR)

Davis Auditorium - 4th floor (campus level), room 412

530 West 120th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)


Eventbrite - Hackathon - Data Transparency Lab 2016


Twitter handle: dtl_info

Twitter hashtag: #dtlhackday16


What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is an invention marathon. People come together to build cool stuff over 12 hours. It’s very beginner friendly

How much does it cost?

Nothing. Attending is free.

Do I need to be a developer to attend?

No! We are looking not only for tools, but also visualizations and other material that could be used to educate people on privacy and transparency.

Where is the event?

The event is being hosted at Columbia University .

Is there a code of conduct?

Yes there is. We enforce it very strongly. You can find it here.