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Privacy Evaluation for Goodreads

Last updated May 18, 2021

Overview

Goodreads lets users track and rate books and network with other readers. The terms of Goodreads say they provide users with robust profile privacy settings that allow them to limit the visibility of their profile information and sending/receiving of messages to only friends, only Goodreads members, or the general public. Goodreads' terms say they do not require visitors to register in order to access some features of its service. If a user wants to use core features - including creating "bookshelves", posting book reviews, or commenting on other members' reviews - they need to create accounts. Goodreads' terms say that they use commercially reasonable physical, managerial, and technical safeguards to preserve the integrity and security of users personal information. Lastly, Goodreads' terms say the service is intended only for users who are 13 years of age or older, and Goodreads does not knowingly collect or solicit personal information from anyone under the age of 13 or knowingly allow children to select a profile birth date under 13 years of age.

Goodreads can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use accessed for this evaluation can be found on Goodreads' website, iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. Additionally, other policies used for this evaluation include: Interest-Based Ads Notice, and California Consumer Privacy Act Disclosures. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

The terms of Goodreads state they provide users with robust profile privacy settings that allow them to limit the visibility of their profile information and sending/receiving of messages to only friends, only Goodreads members, or the general public. In addition, Goodreads' terms state they allow users to post reviews, comments, questions, and other information in group discussions and through an open text box "About Me" section where users can post personal information that can be visible to only friends, Goodreads members, or the general public. Lastly, Goodreads' terms state they may monitor any content posted to the service.

Privacy

Goodreads' terms say they do not require visitors to register in order to access some features of its service. If a user wants to use core features - including creating "bookshelves", posting book reviews, or commenting on other members' reviews - they need to create accounts. Goodreads' terms state they collect personal information that a user provides about themselves such as their name and e-mail address when they register with the service. Goodreads's terms also specify they collect users’ non-personal usage information automatically for data analytics that may be shared with third parties. As noted in the "Safety" section of the terms, users can also create detailed profiles that can be set to be publicly visible, or private within the site. The terms state the site also supports social login with third party services, but the terms do not provide significant detail about what data is shared as part of a social login.

Goodreads' terms specify they allow users to control the collection, correction, or deletion of their information. However, Goodreads' terms say they allow third-parties to serve advertisements to users on the Goodreads site and may measure the effectiveness of these advertisements to personalize advertising content to users with behavioral or contextual ads on other services.

Security

Goodreads' terms state that they use commercially reasonable physical, managerial, and technical safeguards to preserve the integrity and security of users personal information. However, Goodreads' terms do not disclose whether data is encrypted while in transit or while at rest, or any other steps taken to protect sensitive information. The terms specify that, in the event that a user's personal information is compromised as a result of a breach of security, Goodreads will promptly notify those users whose personal information has been compromised.

Compliance

Goodreads' terms state the service is intended solely for users who are 13 years of age or older, and Goodreads does not knowingly collect or solicit personal information from anyone under the age of 13 or knowingly allow children to select a profile birth date under 13 years of age. The terms state if a user is under 18 years of age they may use the service only if they either are an emancipated minor, or obtain parental or guardian consent. The terms state that in the event that Goodreads learns that they have collected personal information from a child under age 13 without verification of parental consent, they will delete that information as quickly as possible.

However, the Service may likely appeal to children under 13 years of age and students in K-12, because of several factors that include subject matter, visual content, age of models, and activities that include learning to read and reading challenges. As a result, it is unclear how a parent of a child under 13 years of age or student in K-12 who is using the service could provide parental consent to Goodreads.

Data Collection
SCORE: 45%

What data does it collect?

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Collection or use of data is not limited to product requirements.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Biometric or health data are collected.
  • Behavioral data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Non-personally identifiable information is collected.
  • Unclear whether opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
  • Unclear whether personal information of users is collected by a third party.
Data Sharing
SCORE: 50%

What data does it share?

  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • The categories of third parties that receive personal information are indicated.
  • Unclear whether data are shared for analytics.
  • Unclear whether data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Data are shared with third-party service providers.
  • Unclear whether the roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
  • Unclear whether this product supports social or federated login.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
Data Security
SCORE: 10%

How does it secure data?

  • Unclear whether a user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
  • Account creation is required.
  • Unclear whether parental controls or managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether two-factor account protection is available.
  • Unclear whether third-party contractual security protections are required.
  • Unclear whether this product uses industry best practices to protect data.
  • Unclear whether this product limits employee or physical access to user information.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data in transit.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data at rest.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notice in the event of a data breach.
Data Rights
SCORE: 35%

What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Unclear whether users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access and review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
  • Unclear whether the product provides a data-retention policy.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to delete data are available.
  • Unclear whether a user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes data when no longer necessary.
  • Unclear whether permissions, roles, or access controls are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to download their data.
Data Sold
SCORE: 10%

Is the data sold?

  • Data are not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Unclear whether users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • Unclear whether user information can be transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
  • Unclear whether third-party transfers are contractually required to use the same privacy practices.
  • Unclear whether user information is shared in an anonymous or deidentified format.
  • Unclear whether the vendor describes their deidentification process of user information.
  • Unclear whether data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying deidentified information.
Data Safety
SCORE: 45%

How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information is shared for social interactions.
  • Personal information is displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed.
  • Unclear whether user-created content is reviewed, screened, or monitored by the vendor.
  • Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Social interactions between users are moderated.
  • Unclear whether social interactions of users are logged.
  • Unclear whether users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
Ads & Tracking
SCORE: 50%

Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Unclear whether data are shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
  • Behavioral or targeted advertising is displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are not used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
  • Unclear whether this vendor can send marketing messages.
  • Unclear whether this vendor provides promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
  • Users can opt out of traditional, contextual, or behavioral advertising.
  • Users can opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
Parental Consent
SCORE: 50%

Can I provide parental consent?

  • Not intended for children under 13.
  • Personal information from children under 13 years of age is not collected online.
  • Unclear whether intended for parents or guardians.
  • Vendor does not have actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Unclear whether children's privacy is applicable.
  • Parental consent is required.
  • Unclear whether this product limits parental consent with respect to third parties.
  • Unclear whether this product allows parents to withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Children's personal information is deleted if collected without parental consent.
  • Unclear whether this product provides parental consent notice and method for submission.
School Purpose
SCORE: 0%

Is the product intended for school?

  • Unclear whether intended for students.
  • Unclear whether personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Unclear whether intended for teachers.
  • Unclear whether this product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Unclear whether the product creates education records.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notification of a contract or additional rights.
  • Unclear whether this product designates the vendor as a school official.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
  • Unclear whether the vendor indicates FERPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product discloses directory information.

Common Sense Standard Privacy Report (SPR)

The standard privacy report (SPR) displays all the privacy practices from a product's policies in a single, easy-to-read outline. The report shows a green check mark for better privacy practices and an orange alert for risky or unclear practices. This alert indicates that more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to help educators make informed decisions about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria will always be freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and our information security primer. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process. Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.