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New Visual Icons Introduced to Help People Easily Understand Online Privacy Policies

Companies mentioned in this article: TRUSTe

SAN FRANCISCO, June 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Disconnect, a leading developer of popular consumer privacy software, and TRUSTe, the leading Data Privacy Management company, today announced the launch of Privacy Icons, software that helps people quickly understand how websites handle their data.

Users want to know what companies intend to do with their data--but privacy policies and terms of service are typically long-winded, complex documents that are predominantly written by lawyers, for lawyers. The TRUSTe Privacy Index found the average privacy policy was 2,464 words long and takes 10 minutes to read with the reading level of a university student.

"Not many people read privacy policies," said Casey Oppenheim, co-founder of Disconnect. "But these are legally important documents that communicate what's going on with your personal information. Privacy Icons translates these complicated policies into terms people can easily understand, including how their data is collected, shared, and protected by the websites they visit and the services they use."

The Privacy Icons software shows users a set of icons in the browser for every site they visit and for every search result. The icons are simple, visual cues that provide a quick and easy way for users to understand the most important data practices of a given website.

Icons indicating data collection and expected use, location tracking and data retention will be powered by data from the TRUSTe Privacy Policy Database, which includes in-depth analysis of the privacy policies of thousands of websites around the world. There will also be icons indicating whether a site is TRUSTe certified and children's privacy certified. Additional icons will indicate whether websites support HTTPS by default, comply with a user's DoNotTrack (DNT) browser preference, and if a website is still vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. Websites that don't have icons can submit requests to be included by visiting

Chris Babel, CEO of TRUSTe said: "People want transparency and control over their data but don't have the time or want to read through lengthy legal documents before visiting a website or using a service. Privacy Icons will help make the data sharing practices of thousands of websites easy to understand for the user and help businesses maintain trust and be rewarded for a commitment to good privacy practices. These simple visual icons will finally bring privacy policies in-line with the visual app-economy."

The Privacy Icons evolved from a Mozilla-led working group, in which TRUSTe and Disconnect participated, starting in 2010. As part of this process, Mozilla convened a series of privacy workshops that brought together some of the world's leading thinkers in online privacy. Participants included individuals from the FTC, the EFF, the CDT, and the W3C, who tried to answer the question: "What attributes of privacy policies should people care about?" The current iteration of the icons addresses this important question in light of recent privacy and security revelations.

"The single most important thing we need right now in the fight to defend our online privacy is simple tools that everyday people can use to protect themselves," said Evan Greer of Fight for the Future, the non-profit behind Reset the Net, a global campaign to secure the web against mass surveillance. "To make the web safer, we need to get everyone thinking about their online privacy. By telling users whether websites encrypt your connections with HTTPS by default, and whether sites are vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, Privacy Icons is helping that shift and keeping internet users informed."

Privacy Icons also indicates whether a website complies with a user's DNT browser setting. Initially, the DNT icon will be assigned to the list of companies committed to honor DNT on DoNotTrack.Us, a website maintained by Stanford and Princeton privacy researchers Jonathan Mayer and Arvind Narayanan. Companies not on that list, but who have committed to comply with DNT, will also be assigned the DNT icon on a case-by-case basis.

Starting today, the Privacy Icons software is available as desktop browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, with versions for the other major desktop and mobile browsers soon to follow. Installs and additional information about the Privacy Icons can be found at

About Disconnect

Disconnect was founded on a basic principle: that people should have the freedom to move about the Internet -- and their lives -- without anyone else looking over their shoulder. The company was started in 2011 by a former Google engineer and a consumer-rights attorney.

Disconnect's top-rated apps stop tracking by third parties and search engines and are used by more than 2,000,000 people every week. Visit Disconnect on the web at

About TRUSTe

TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across web, mobile, cloud and advertising channels. Our cloud-based Data Privacy Management Platform delivers innovative technology products, including website monitoring and advertising compliance controls - along with privacy assessments and certifications. More than 5,000 companies worldwide rely on our DPM platform and globally recognized Certified Privacy Seal to protect/enhance their brand, drive user engagement and minimize compliance risk. For more information, please see

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