Risk

EFF Web Service Tracks Changes In Privacy Policies At Popular Websites

Electronic Frontier Foundation's TOSBack.org will shed light on changes in service and privacy policies on such sites as Facebook, Google, and eBay

Do you know how your favorite Website tracks your browsing activity or uses your personal information? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believes that most users don't -- and it's doing something about it.

The EFF on Thursday launched TOSBack.org, a "terms of service" tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and other major Websites. The idea is to give users an easy way of finding the privacy policies used by their favorite sites, and to be alerted when those policies change.

TOSBack.org offers a real-time feed of changes and updates to more than three dozen policies from the Internet's most popular online services. Clicking on an update brings users a side-by-side, before-and-after comparison, highlighting what has been removed from the policy and what has been added, the EFF says.

The issue of terms-of-service changes -- and how and why they are made -- was highlighted earlier this year when Facebook modified its terms of use. Facebook users worried that the change gave the company the right to use their content indefinitely. After a user revolt, Facebook announced it would restore the former terms while it worked through the concerns users had raised.

"Some changes to terms of service are good for consumers, and some are bad," says EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann. "But Internet users are increasingly trusting Websites with everything from their photos to their 'friends lists' to their calendar -- and sometimes even their medical information. TOSBack will help consumers flag changes in the Websites they use every day and trust with their personal information."

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Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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