Rising consumer interest in digital privacy has increased scrutiny over companies and their data collection activities. In an effort to better understand what companies are asking their customers and site visitors to consent to, Avast has partnered with Diffbot, a developer of machine learning, computer vision algorithms, and public APIs for extracting data from web pages, to analyze privacy policies and end user license agreements from across the internet.
The Avast research team of Galina Alperovich, Martin Kostelansky, and Elizaveta Saifutdinova observed that hardly anyone takes the time to read through and deeply understand these documents. For an average consumer, they probably lack the legal expertise to do so even if they wanted to. In order to analyze the numerous lengthy privacy policies out there, the research team is using machine learning to automate the task.
Machine learning uses computer algorithms which can improve automatically through their use of data. It is also considered a component of artificial intelligence. As luck would have it, there is a lot of data from company privacy policies to feed into the data model, and the researchers expect to gain much more insight over time. In an effort to increase transparency and shine a spotlight on privacy policies, Avast is conducting this research to determine the implications to digital privacy. Diffbot and Avast are combining expertise in machine learning, digital privacy, and Diffbot’s comprehensive internet knowledge graph.
Through this research collaboration, we hope to learn more about the trends across different industries and geographies. In the coming months, we will be releasing our findings on the Avast blog, so stay tuned. We will also be asking the general public for input and inspiration for what could be interesting to consider when analyzing this data. Our team is hopeful that increasing transparency on companies and their data collection practices will allow consumers to make more informed decisions as to which companies they visit online and do business with to nudge companies in the direction of taking consumer privacy concerns more seriously.