Privacy Policy For Website

But a new project called Polisis poses a way to make these policies easier to understand: visualize them. The tool uses machine learning to analyze any privacy policy on the internet and creates flow charts that reveal how companies use your data, what third parties receive it, and what you can do about it. While it’s a great tool for understanding exactly what any website is doing with your data, Polisis has an even larger goal: to create an entirely new interface for privacy policies.

Google [Screenshot: Hamza Harkous]
“Privacy policies so far play the role of being legally binding on one side, and being an interface on the other side to the users,” says post-doctoral researcher Hamza Harkous, who created Polisis and studies human-computer interaction, data, and privacy at the Swiss university EPFL. “I hope at some point we’ll arrive at a point where the privacy policy legal text is no longer the default interface for privacy information about websites.”

Polisis is the result of an AI system Harkous first created when making a chatbot, called Pribot, that would be able to answer any questions you might have about a service’s privacy policy. To build the bot, Harkous and the team of researchers he worked with needed to be able to understand exactly what each privacy policy was saying. He captured all the policies from the Google Play Store–about 130,000 policies–and fed them into a machine learning algorithm that could learn to distinguish different parts of the policies. Then, the team used a second dataset, from the Usable Privacy Policy Project, consisting of 115 policies that law students had annotated, to train more algorithms to distinguish more granular details, like financial data that the company uses and financial data the company shares with third parties.

Once they’d built the system, Harkous realized that the chatbot interface was only useful if you had a specific question about a specific company. So he began work on Polisis, which uses the same underlying system but just represents the flow of data in a visual way.

Facebook [Screenshot: Hamza Harkous]
“We had a lot of powerful techniques just waiting for people to ask via a chatbot,” Harkous says. “This allows you to discover them in a single interface and allow you to discover what’s inside the privacy policy. It removes the barrier between the user and the privacy barrier. It’s colorful, you can see data flowing.”

Some of the most interesting insights Harkous has noticed of the nearly 16,500 policies the system has analyzed so far come from the privacy policies for Apple and Pokemon Go. Both companies take users’ location data, which makes sense given that they both offer location-based services, but the Polisis visualizations show just how many things they use location data for–in particular, advertising. You might not realize it, but when you catch a Pokemon in a certain area, the company is likely using your location to sell you things.

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