Data privacy research from Cybersecurity program published in academic journal

Data privacy research from Cybersecurity program published in renowned academic journal


In the ever-evolving digital age, safeguarding privacy amidst data and online threats has never been more crucial. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred rapid technological strides to meet the escalating need for real-time insights as the virus spread, which included alternative tracking methods seamlessly integrated into mobile apps to provide up-to-the-minute case counts and other pertinent information for public awareness. However, data privacy concerns spiked and fueled fears of personal security breaches.

To investigate this issue, Marymount students and faculty collaborated to produce a research study, Privacy Considerations of Location Tracking in Social Welfare Applicationswhich was published in the Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability’s January 2024 issue. Three faculty members from the University’s College of BILTDr. Dalal Alarayed, Dr. Larry Copeland Jr. and Dr. Donna Schaeffer — enlisted the help of three doctorate students — Ashley Jones, Prakash Kharvi and Forrest Moskwa — in examining the scope, reach, adoption rates and effectiveness of COVID-19 pandemic tracking applications. The team also surveyed cultural attitudes on privacy related to constant location tracking.

“The project has greatly enhanced my knowledge of the intersection of data privacy, cultural expectations about data privacy and their impacts on society,” Jones explained. “It’s a topic I am now deeply passionate about.”

The study examined how Bahrain, India, Saudi Arabia and various U.S. states managed the COVID-19 crisis through technological advancements, including developing apps to track cases and communicate essential information to the public. Bahrain, for example, operated through a QR code-based app BeAware Bahrain, utilizing easy tracking and vaccination status. In the U.S., individual states determined for themselves how to implement apps, leading to mixed results in regards to acceptance and use.

A 2022 graduate of Marymount’s Cybersecurity doctorate program, Dr. Copeland Jr. explained that users are now more aware of what they sign up for when installing mobile device applications in the post-COVID era.

“The paper emphasizes that privacy is not just a right, but a worldwide challenge,” he said. “Only through rigorous standards can we truly address and uphold the right to privacy on a global scale.”

Dr. Copeland Jr. hopes to expand the project with additional content and develop specific paper topics into standalone articles. Dr. Schaeffer plans to assemble another writing team this summer and possibly extend their research to other countries.

“It’s important for all of us, as global citizens, to understand that the technology is there or emerging and that different cultures will be more or less accepting of its use.”