PrivacyCheck Offers Free Tool to Analyze Privacy Policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 5, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas – 

The Center for Identity, a research organization at The University of Texas at Austin, today released PrivacyCheck, a free browser extension that scans privacy policies online and illustrates the risk of sharing personal data with any given company. Currently available for Chrome users, PrivacyCheck gives users a simple, fast way to make informed decisions about privacy.

PrivacyCheck automatically provides a graphical, at-a-glance summary of the ways in which a company plans to use personal data. The browser add-on scans lengthy privacy policies and rates the usage policies by highlighting easy-to-understand risk levels (shown in green, yellow or red) of 10 factors affecting a consumer’s identity security and privacy. Those factors are:

Factors

Description

Email Address

How does the site handle your email address?

Credit Card Number

How does the site handle your credit card number and home address?

SSN

How does the site handle your Social Security number?

Ads & Marketing

Does the site use or share your personally identifiable information for marketing purposes?

Location

Does the site track or share your location?

Children’s PII

Does the site collect personally identifiable information from children under 13?

Law Enforcement

Does the site share your information with law enforcement?

Policy Change

Does the site notify you or allow you to opt out when its privacy policy changes?

Control of Data

Does the site allow you to edit or delete your information from its records?

Data Aggregation

Does the site collect or share aggregated data related to your identity or behavior?

“PrivacyCheck gives consumers an easier way to make truly informed decisions about whether to click ‘I Agree’ and to control where their personal information ends up,” said Dr. Suzanne Barber, director of the Center for Identity at UT Austin. “Whether a company could sell personally identifiable information to third-parties or whether an app will release data to law enforcement without a search warrant, consumers deserve greater transparency before sharing their information.”

International, federal and state laws require most businesses to publicly post a privacy policy stating how they use customers’ personally identifiable information. As a result, most privacy policies are easily accessible online but are often so lengthy and technical that consumers don’t have time to read them. In 2012, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University estimated that the average Internet user would need to spend about 200 to 250 hours a year to read each privacy policy they encounter in full — approximately the same as one full month spent at work.

PrivacyCheck is the only privacy policy analysis service that offers comprehensive Web coverage. While other solutions require the business to enroll in a service, or for the policy to be manually checked, PrivacyCheck’s data mining approach automatically reports on any privacy policy on the Web, without bias or limitation.

PrivacyCheck is compatible with Google Chrome browsers and is available for free download in the Chrome Web Store. The tool is being announced at the ID360: Global Forum on Identity today to hundreds of thought leaders from government, academia and industry. To register for ID360, visit http://identity.utexas.edu/id360.

Contact(s): Anna Griffin, Communications Coordinator, 512-739-3425.

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