Second-year CS student Anne Chung and her teammate Lena Nguyen win privacy-themed Citizen Hacks competition

Monday, September 23, 2019

A pair of second-year University of Waterloo students shared the top prize at the inaugural Citizen Hacks, a recent hackathon focused on creating technology to protect privacy.

Anne Chung, a second-year computer science student, along with her teammate Lena Nguyen, a second-year systems design engineering student, developed software that puts web browsers into a safe mode for kids by disabling input fields on pages that ask for sensitive information such as addresses and credit card numbers. Known as Safe.net, their project also features a portal app that allows parents to see websites that have been blocked and to grant their children access to sites they consider OK.

photo of Lena Nguyen and Anne Chung

L to R: Lena Nguyen, second-year systems design engineering student, and Anne Chung, second-year computer science student. Lena and Anne created Safe.net, software that helps create a secure Internet experience for kids.

Citizen Hacks took place over September 6 to 8, 2019 at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. The hackathon, which attracted nearly 150 students from high schools, colleges and universities in the region, began with a keynote address from Ann Cavoukian, former privacy commissioner of Ontario, who outlined the principles of privacy by design.

Working in teams, participants had 36 hours to build their projects. Hackers also attended workshops, talks and panel discussions, many of which featured experts from the University of Waterloo, including Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Ian Goldberg.

Citizen Hacks was envisioned to bring students together to address the privacy implications of technology and the event was part of an emerging trend involving educational opportunities that encourage innovation in privacy-protecting technology. 

To learn more about the projects students created, please see the Citizen Hacks’ Devpost page.

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