Publication: Improving Understanding of Website Privacy Policies with Fine-Grained Policy Anchors

Website privacy policies state the ways that a site will use personal identifiable information (PII) that is collected from fields and forms in web-based transactions. Since these policies can be complex, machine-readable versions have been developed that allow automatic comparison of a site's privacy policy with a user's privacy preferences. However, it is still difficult for users to determine the cause and origin of conformance conflicts, because current standards operate at the page level – they can only say that there is a conflict on the page, not where the conflict occurs or what causes it. In this paper we describe fine-grained policy anchors, an extension to the way a website implements the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P), that solves this problem. Fine grained policy anchors enable field-level comparisons of policy and preference, field-specific conformance displays, and faster access to additional conformance information. We built a prototype user agent based on these extensions and tested it with representative users. We found that fine-grained anchors do help users understand how privacy policy relates to their privacy preferences, and where and why conformance conflicts occur.

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Participants

Steve Levy Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan

Projects

Improving Understanding of Website Privacy Policies
Machine-readable privacy policies have been developed to help reduce user effort in understanding how websites will use personally identifiable information (PII).

Citation

Levy, S., Gutwin, C. 2005. Improving Understanding of Website Privacy Policies with Fine-Grained Policy Anchors. In Proceedings of the Conference on the World-Wide Web, 480-488.

BibTeX

@inproceedings {p480-levy,
author= {Steve Levy and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Improving Understanding of Website Privacy Policies with Fine-Grained Policy Anchors},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the Conference on the World-Wide Web},
year= {2005},
pages= {480-488}
}