December 17, 2015
Consumers spent nearly $3 billion on Cyber Monday this year, and the holiday online shopping frenzy will continue through the end of the year. Within these purchases, financial data and other personal information are shared on thousands of websites, each one with unique privacy policies that explain how that data is being used. But do consumers actually understand these privacy policies? Recent studies suggest the answer is no, but it’s not necessarily the fault of the consumer.
“If a user enters their name or their email address on a website registration page, PrivacyPal will pop up and say whether or not the website will sell that information, or whether or not the user may opt out from letting the website do that,” says Jonathan Liao, a graduate student in the Institute for Software Research (ISR) in the School of Computer Science, and one of five students who worked on PrivacyPal for a class project.
“The major problem that a lot of us have faced is that privacy policies are too long, too convoluted, and very tough to understand,” says ISR graduate student Arnab Kumar, another member of the student team. “Because of that, it’s very important that when a person is entering personal information online that they understand how it is being used.”
“We want to make everyone privacy-aware one day,” says Kumar. “That’s our main goal.”
Other members of the PrivacyPal team include ISR graduate students Zheng Zong, Harishma Dayanidhi, and Vijay Kumar Kalanji Sakharam.
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