Evaluation Details

Privacy evaluations are designed to categorize the complexity of a vendor's privacy policies into a simple and consistent framework that provides the right amount of detail and information about a product for every user and at the right decision point given their awareness and understanding of privacy. Our privacy evaluations aim to provide enough detail about a product based on a scale of a parent or educator's understanding of privacy to help them make a more informed decision and encourage all individuals to learn more about privacy and increase their awareness. The greater an individual's privacy awareness, the more detailed information displayed. The privacy evaluations categorize a parent or educator's privacy awareness into the following levels: no, low, medium, high, and compliance awareness.

No Awareness: These individuals have no awareness of privacy and do not consider privacy issues at all in their decision-making process.

Low Awareness: These individuals understand that privacy may be important but have minimal to no awareness of what privacy concerns or issues they should look for when deciding whether or not to use a product.

Medium Awareness: These individuals likely have never read a privacy policy but feel somewhat comfortable with their better-than-average understanding of a handful of important privacy risks and concerns that they always look for when evaluating whether or not to use a product.

High Awareness: These individuals are familiar with their most important privacy concerns about a product and are interested in reading detailed summary reports about a product to understand the risks. Also, these individuals are interested in learning more about complex privacy issues by reading our research reports.

Compliance Awareness: These individuals are considered "experts" by their peers and are comfortable reading privacy policies and look for as much detail as possible about a product to meet their federal, state, or contractual procurement requirements.

The following hierarchical structure illustrates individual privacy awareness and privacy evaluation details.

Evaluation Flags

The following table describes how our privacy evaluations break down different levels of evaluation details based on an individual's privacy awareness:

Awareness Evaluation Details
No Rating
Low Basic Score, Rating Risk Flags
Medium Product Summary, Product Concerns, Intended Users
High Concern Score, Concern Statements, Standard Privacy Report
Compliance Full Privacy Evaluation Reports, Full Privacy Evaluation Data Export

The Privacy Ratings page describes how we categorize evaluations into three ratings based on meeting minimum privacy and security requirements, which parents and educators, with no privacy awareness, can use to make a more informed decision. We also describe the difference between basic and full evaluations, and our Evaluation Scores page describes how overall scores can help parents and educators with low privacy awareness compare products and make an informed decision about a product's privacy practices alongside its evaluation rating. The Privacy Risks page also describes how our rating criteria help parents and educators with low privacy awareness quickly understand why a product received its rating with some helpful information to learn more about the privacy risks and harms.

In addition, our evaluations provide a curated product summary, which parents and educators with medium privacy awareness can use to make a more informed decision with a little background and knowledge about how privacy and security work. Our product summaries generally describe the most important privacy-, security-, safety-, and compliance-related privacy issues about each product based on the concerns, as well as helpful links to the product's website, app store downloads, and privacy policy. Each evaluation also includes additional privacy and security concerns we have identified since 2018, as discussed in the Evaluation Concerns page, which parents and educators with medium privacy awareness can use to learn more about a specific area of concern regarding a product. The Evaluation Concerns page describes how parents and educators with medium privacy awareness can use different concerns—such as data collection, data security, data safety, or advertising—to make a more informed decision. Also, the Intended Users page describes what the policies specify are the intended users of an application or service, such as children, students, teens, parents, educators, or consumers.

For parents and educators with high privacy awareness, the Evaluation Scores page describes how each concern category receives its own score based on how the company's policies answered the 10 questions in each concern. Similarly to Privacy Risks, parents and educators can learn why each concern received the score it did with concern statements that automatically describe the practices of each question in a concern. The Standard Privacy Report section describes that for parents and educators with high privacy awareness, they can download a simple report that summarizes a product's policies in an easy-to-read bullet outline that describes the privacy statements of the product. Moreover, for parents, educators, and school or district administrators with compliance awareness of privacy, our full privacy evaluation reports and evaluation data export are available in a separate format for them to learn as much detail as possible about a product in order to meet their federal, state, or contractual procurement requirements. In addition, parents and educators with compliance awareness can navigate the privacy evaluation questions, which include additional background information and relevant citations to help them learn about better practices for each evaluation question. Lastly, our Policy Annotator tool is available for parents, educators, and companies who would like to complete their own privacy evaluation and better understand the privacy practices of products they use everyday.