Drumbeat/Challenges/Privacy Icons

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Privacy Icons


Those interested in the idea are encouraged to read Aza Razkin's blog post Making Privacy Policies not Suck which got this idea rolling within the Drumbeat community.

The Challenge:

Design a simple set of icons that can educate users of the privacy policies of websites. (Think of something as simple as the Fair Trade Coffee label on food or creative commons logos for copyright)

Notes from the Privacy Forum


  • Create a simple standard to explain privacy policies (make privacy policies not suck) and terms of service
  • Enable web users to make better choices when picking and using web services
  • Enable web users to have more control over their privacy
  • Increase internet users awareness about privacy issues
  • Educate internet users on privacy policies of websites
  • Establish, and move the online service industry to adopt, a standard around privacy and terms of service (or push online services to adopt better practices)


Launch a design challenge that involves experts and the community to create icons that can summarize privacy policies.

Program Outline:

Already completed:

  • Commissioned a Japanese design company to do some initial design work

Key Questions/Criteria:

  1. Assess what aspects of privacy we want/can visualize
  2. Determine what, if any online privacy related legal text can be modularized
  3. Draft the legal orthogonal statements: a) a list of privacy “settings” we are trying to visualize; and b) an outline of the “on” and “off” states of these privacy “settings”


This process is draft - how/if we proceed is still very much up in the air and will depend on consultations with a number of people.

  1. Have a class of law students draft the legal orthogonal statements
  2. Have a group of lawyers/students poke holes/test the orthogonal statements
  3. Have a group of lawyers/students assess what challenges lawyers will have with the the final product/assess how to make these statements binding/link to standard language in terms of use contracts
  4. For each orthogonal statement ask drumbeat community members to submit visual themes or ideas that might convey the essence of that statement
  5. Design challenge - run a competition to design the "look and feel" of the icons
  6. Crowdsource the logic of the icons. Ask community members to test where the icons work and when to they break (e.g. works in a business setting, not in personal setting or a given icon does not work on website "x")
  7. Crowdsource consumer reviews of websites (like all the social networking sites) using the icons
  8. Determine who will be the curator of this project? (e.g. What will the governance be? (Mozilla, a spin-off, other?)

Immediate Next Steps

  • Determine an appropriate question or Challenge for Zittrain and Ryan's classes

Design Criteria:

  • Concept is explainable – icons need to be as simple as creative commons
  • Each privacy issue must have an  “on” or “off” (safe or unsafe) state

Other Resources:


  • Julie Martin, Mozilla, legal strategy
  • Aza Raskin, Mozilla, product strategy, design, overall leadership
  • Lauren Gelman, legal strategy
  • Dharmishta Rood, documentation and strategy
  • Mark Surman, Mozilla, drumming up participation and resource, promoting
  • Gillian Hadfield, USC Law, thinking about legal framework
  • Zak Greant, LexPublica, promoting, strategy, user experience, docs