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Talk:Drumbeat/Challenges/Privacy Icons

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There seem to be two primary projects here:

1) Designing a creative commons-like system of symbols and heuristics to categorize different websites policies and make them easier to understand for lay users, and

I'd bet that our first step should be to try and understand the audiences that we're serving, along with how much information the audience needs and how much complexity they can stomach.

For the 80% majority of users, it might be that they only care to know if a website's privacy policy and terms of service are safe or unsafe, and that the most complexity they can accept is some kind of simple sliding scale.

We've (LexPublica) done some thinking around this. I'll work up a blog post asap.

Zak Greant 00:38, 5 March 2010 (UTC)


2) Designing modular privacy policy elements so that users can opt in and out of various provisions of the policy to create their own contract with the company.

As for the first project, I think the realm of possibilities in privacy statements is too great to be able to simplify it. It wouldn't be practical to come up with a visualization of each kind of information sharing policy, storage encryption, deletion policy, etc. Instead, it would be better to create visualizations for the various categories of policies. From Aza and a variety of other sources, the primary categories of concern seem to be:

1. Information Sharing

2. Storage (and encryption)

3. Monetization

4. Deletion

5. Contact/Notification


So it would seem the best method of simplifying this information would be a set of icons to represent these categories followed by a kind of set scale for the the privileges the company claims for the use of the user's information. I have tried to upload an example jpg that I created (though I'm not sure I entirely understand how to upload it.)

Drumbeat privacy icons wmwm.jpg

This "general category icon" is the solution that http://www.privacychoice.org/whos_watching has used. The problem with privacychoice's particular use is that once you select the category, the information it reveals is still too unwieldy, and you can't get actual tailored information for each site apart from the confusing text.

Some possible solutions to the above problem: 1) Color code the categories' symbols with red being more restrictive and green less restrictive to give a gut-level of information to the consumer who can use that color coded information to know which categories to read more carefully. 2) generalized scales that can be applied to each category. I've tried to illustrate this in the image linked above, illustrating the scale and highlighting the applicable one. such as in sharing ranging from: "only available to user" to "publicly available" 3) a series of symbols or simple phrases to represent the various policies under each category which might be illustrated using bullet points next to the image.