Investigating Similarity Between Privacy Policies of Social Networking Sites as a Precursor for Standardization

Emma Cradock, David Millard, Sophie Stalla-Bourdillon
2015 Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web - WWW '15 Companion  
The current execution of privacy policies, as a mode of communicating information to users, is unsatisfactory. Social networking sites (SNS) exemplify this issue, attracting growing concerns regarding their use of personal data and its effect on user privacy. This demonstrates the need for more informative policies. However, SNS lack the incentives required to improve policies, which is exacerbated by the difficulties of creating a policy that is both concise and compliant. Standardization
more » ... sses many of these issues, providing benefits for users and SNS, although it is only possible if policies share attributes which can be standardized. This investigation used thematic analysis and cross-document structure theory, to assess the similarity of attributes between the privacy policies (as available in August 2014), of the six most frequently visited SNS globally. Using the Jaccard similarity coefficient, two types of attribute were measured; the clauses used by SNS and the coverage of forty recommendations made by the UK Information Commissioner's Office. Analysis showed that whilst similarity in the clauses used was low, similarity in the recommendations covered was high, indicating that SNS use different clauses, but to convey similar information. The analysis also showed that low similarity in the clauses was largely due to differences in semantics, elaboration and functionality between SNS. Therefore, this paper proposes that the policies of SNS already share attributes, indicating the feasibility of standardization and five recommendations are made to begin facilitating this, based on the findings of the investigation.
doi:10.1145/2740908.2743050 dblp:conf/www/CradockMS15 fatcat:i3a63s7upndupii3n5t63egq3q