Re:Privacy; Investigating the accessibility and parsability of online legal documents

A thesis research paper addressing “the biggest lie on the internet”—the societal expectation that very few internet users read the Terms of Service and/or Privacy Policy documents attached to the websites they interact with online.

I investigated how often internet users agree to website Terms without reading them and why. This opened up the potential for a service or tool that makes these documents more approachable and easier to understand - with the common reasoning for blindly agreeing to these documents that they were too complicated to quickly understand. To try solve this problem and make these documents more accessible, I proposed through the a browser plugin (developed for Google Chrome) that would present these documents in plain english, with a rating assigned dependent on how they used user data.

This design aimed to inspire user motivation by providing enough information for them to begin understanding how [personally identifiable information] is treated by the websites they visit ... for them to begin understanding the risks associated with interacting online.

I explored options for employing machine learning technology to help simplify the legalese used in these documented automatically, and how to make this information easily accessible for internet users. However, due to the limitations of the research the end product was only a proof of concept and not a fully functioning product.

Overall, this thesis spanned 18 months and included both a fully researched written paper and a developed prototype illustrating the proposed functionality.