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Security & privacy

New clever website shows you what sites track about you when you visit

Do you know anyone who even reads privacy policies? You know, those cryptic agreements websites and services make you go through before you can start using them.

They’re filled with hard-to-understand lingo and legalese for a reason – so you won’t bother reading them! This way, these services can bury their data collection and privacy practices within pages upon pages of lawyer-speak.

And yes, most of us don’t bother reading through privacy policies anyway. We simply agree and click “Yes” then proceed with our lives, right?

But is that a good idea? Intrusive user tracking and data collection practices can be sneaked in via the fine print of these privacy policies and terms of services.

Since you most likely clicked “Yes” to these privacy policies, it’s assumed that you’re OK with this data collection and tracking even though you don’t have an inkling about what these agreements really mean.

A clever new website is about to change that. With the help of machine learning and AI, it can simplify any privacy policy into a form that anyone can understand – a graph!

This website breaks it all down for you!

A new project called Polisis is aiming to make all these privacy policies easier to understand. Using clever artificial intelligence, it automatically analyzes an online service’s privacy policy and presents it in a more user-friendly form.

Just enter any website or online service’s name on Polisis’ search bar and it will look for its privacy policy then break it down for you.

It will then generate a flowchart graph with summaries of what data an online service tracks about you, what it does with this data and options for opting out.

For example, searching for Facebook will reveal many things about its data collection and tracking practices.

Aside from the common tracking identifiers like your contact information, IP address and device ID, Polisis says that Facebook also collects your online activities, location, financial information and a ton of “unspecified data.”

The flowchart then links all these categories with the reasons the online service says it’s using the data for. It could be anything – from advertising, marketing, analytics or customization, Polisis makes it all easier to visualize and understand.

Lastly, the flowchart will also list the opt-in or opt-out options for any particular tracking feature, if any. In Facebook’s case, a huge chunk of its data collection falls within “Unspecified Choice.” This means there are no mentions of opt-out options for these trackers within Facebook’s privacy policy.

For the most part, Polisis really provides a revealing and interesting glimpse of how online services track us and what they use this data for. The graphs are easy to digest and the summaries are a cinch to grasp. A far cry from the legal mumbo-jumbo of actual privacy policies.

The privacy policy chatbot

Another cool feature of the site is an AI called PriBot.

PriBot is basically a chatbot that can answer all your questions about a website or online service’s privacy policy. Type in any question and PriBot will find the appropriate passage of a company’s privacy policy that should answer your query.

PriBot will even give its own thoughts and pieces of advice about the matter. Pretty slick!

How to try Polisis and PriBot

Polisis and PriBot are completely free services you can try right now. Just click here to proceed to the PriBot website and start breaking down all those privacy policies.

Even better, if you want to integrate Polisis right into your browser for instant privacy policy summaries of any website you visit, try its Chrome or Firefox extension.

Upon installation, you will see a little padlock icon on the left side of your browser menu. Simply click on the icon while on any website and Polisis will automatically analyze its privacy policy. Quick and easy!

Do you have any questions Kim can lend a hand to?

Click here to send Kim a question, she may use it and answer it on her radio show. The Kim Komando Show is broadcast on over 450 stations. Click here to find the show time in your area.

Speaking of AIs, this Google chatbot that can replace you

Google is currently testing that can automatically reply to your messages using what an AI knows about you! Is this convenient or creepy? Click here to read more about it.

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