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New Tool that Measures Privacy Risk of Sharing Personal Information
On February 12, 2012 PrivateChoice, LLC launched a new website www.privacyscore.com that makes it possible for users to estimate, on a scale of 0 (worst) to 100 (best), the privacy risk associated with giving a website your personal and behavioral information.
“Privacy risk”, according to PrivateChoice, is the chance that data about you will be used or shared in ways that you probably don’t expect.
Privacyscore measures this risk through nine different factors, each weighted based on importance. The factors include how the site promises to protect personal user data, as well as the privacy qualifications of tracking companies who collect data, weighted based on their share of the tracking events on the site. Currently the average score across all sites monitored is 70 out of a 100 possible points. The average privacyscore for top websites by category is as follows:
Privacyscore believes that privacy policies have largely failed in informing web users about privacy risks. When you use privacyscore through a browser add-on, privacy awareness becomes part of your regular web routine. The tool enables users to identify risks and determine whether a site is being responsible in how it shares data with its advertisers, without having to read those long detailed privacy policies.
With privacyscores, web users also have the opportunity to contribute. The heart of their system is the mapping that is maintained between websites and the ecosystem of ad and data companies collecting cross-site data. When add-on users check the box to share tracking activity with the privacyscore system, they extend the breadth and depth of coverage.
This new tool also establishes something that privacyscore is calling “Privacy Analytics,” which is applying quantitative techniques to the measurement and management of privacy risk. For the first time, publishers and advertisers have metrics to guide their decisions that affect user privacy. Publishers can also subscribe to privacyscore’s privacy analytics services to receive a more in-depth scanning of their site, privacyscore change alerts and more detailed analysis of third-party data collection on their site.
“For the first time, internet publishers and their users have a way to easily compare privacy practices across the Web,” said Jim Brock, the founder of PrivacyChoice, in a statement. “This transparency not only allows people to make smarter decisions about their own data, it also will spur more protective privacy practices by sites and tracking companies, which is long overdue.”
Users who visit privacyscore.com can search for Web sites they wish to have scored.
Users also can download a plug-in for their browsers that, when activated, will show a privacy score at the top of each Web site they visit.
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