Towards Effective Web Privacy Notice and Choice

A Multi-disciplinary Perspective

Through a Frontier grant awarded by the National Science Foundation as part of the NSF’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace project, Fordham CLIP is collaborating with researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford to address the challenge for Internet users to make sense of online privacy notices. The project brings together from the three universities an interdisciplinary team of experts from technology, linguistics, and law to develop tools that will combine natural language processing, machine learning, and crowdsourcing to analyze website privacy policies and translate them into user-friendly, readable formats. The results of the project will also enable 'sweeps' of privacy policies over time to identify information that, from a legal and regulatory standpoint, can shape privacy policy decision-making. Under the leadership of Professor Reidenberg, the CLIP team will provide a legal perspective on key features of website privacy policies, project surveys of users, and the development of new user interfaces. Ultimately, the joint research team envisions the development of an interface or browser add-on that can summarize the pertinent privacy characteristics of a website in a way that is easily understood. In addition to improving transparency online, researchers will have a new database to query to understand how companies approach privacy, and how approaches change over time—which will open new avenues for public policy research.

Additional information

Research Reports and Studies

Crowdsourcing Privacy Policy Interpretation, T. Norton (TPRC 2015 Draft), April 30, 2015.

Elements of Effective Privacy Notices, A. Grannis (TPRC 2015 Draft), April 1, 2015. 

Disagreeable Privacy Policies: Mismatches Between Meaning and Users' Understanding, J. Reidenberg, T. Breaux, L.F. Cranor, B. French, A. Grannis, J.T. Graves, F. Liu, A. McDonald, T. Norton, R. Ramanath, N.C. Russell, N. Sadeh and F. Schaub, 30 Berkeley Tech. L. J. 39 (2015).

Privacy Harms and the Effectiveness of the Notice and Choice Framework, J. Reidenberg, N.C. Russell, A. Callen, S. Qasir and T. Norton, 11 I/S: J.L. & Pol'y For Info. Soc'y 485 (2015).

Privacy Enforcement Actions, J. Reidenberg, N.C. Russell, A. Callen, and S. Qasir, June 24, 2014.