Posted by repplinger
Like most people, you probably don’t make it a habit of reading privacy agreements before using free online services. A non-profit group in New York released a report called the Common Data Project, which compared the privacy policies of 10 major web sites: Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Microsoft, AOL, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, Photobucket, NYT, WebMD, Ask, Cuil, and Ixquick.
The discussion of the results were pretty interesting. For example, the report states that:
“… Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have yet to vividly demonstrate why collecting and retaining data makes their services better. Perhaps if they did, they would be less hard-pressed to delete their data as soon as possible.”
“In some ways, consumers are starting to already feel that they’ve gotten a bad deal. Even though most only feel a vague discomfort at this point, it’s unlikely that companies like RealAge will be able to continue what they’ve been doing. RealAge promoted itself as a simple online quiz to help people be healthier, with endorsements by famous doctors, with only limited disclosure of the fact that their profits were based on selling quiz-takers’ information to pharmaceutical companies.”
These were the seven topics that were compared (these are questions to look out for when you read policies):
2. How do they define “personal information”?
3. What promises are being made about sharing information with third parties?
4. What is their data retention policy and what does it say about their commitment to privacy?
5. What privacy choices do they offer to the user?
6. What input do users have into changes to the policy’s terms?
7. To what extent does they share the data they collect with users and the public?
This report even visually compared the amount of the content, of which Web MD, Amazon, and ASK contain the most content: