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Article
Are They Worth Reading? An In-Depth Analysis of Online Trackers’ Privacy Policies
I/S : a journal of law and policy for the information society
  • Candice Hoke, Cleveland State University
  • Lorrie Faith Cranor, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Pedro Giovanni Leon, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Alyssa Au, University of Pittsburgh - Main Campus
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
4-1-2015
Abstract
We analyzed the privacy policies of 75 online tracking companies with the goal of assessing whether they contain information relevant for users to make privacy decisions. We compared privacy policies from large companies, companies that are members of self-regulatory organizations, and nonmember companies and found that many of them are silent with regard to important consumer-relevant practices including the collection and use of sensitive information and linkage of tracking data with personally-identifiable information. We evaluated these policies against self-regulatory guidelines and found that many policies are not fully compliant. Furthermore, the overly general requirements established in those guidelines allow companies to have compliant practices without providing transparency to users. Few companies disclose their data retention times or offer users the opportunity to access the information collected about them. The lack of consistent terminology to refer to affiliate and non-affiliate partners, and the mix of practices for first-party and third-party contexts make it challenging for users to clearly assess the risks associated with online tracking. We discuss options to improve the transparency of online tracking companies’ privacy practices.
Version
Publisher's PDF
Citation Information
Candice Hoke, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Pedro Giovanni Leon & Alyssa Au, "Are They Worth Reading? An In-Depth Analysis of Online Trackers’ Privacy Policies", I/S : a journal of law and policy for the information society (Forthcoming, Spring 2015).