Evaluation Questions

The Common Sense Privacy Program uses a comprehensive privacy evaluation process that includes both full and basic question sets. These questions are also categorized to display different concern categories, associated privacy laws, and a standard privacy report. Click on the following resources below to learn more:

Basic Evaluation Questions

  • The following privacy evaluation questions are used in our basic evaluation process and comprise only a sub-set of 35 questions that are considered the most important questions from our full 150 question evaluation. Basic evaluations answer the most critical privacy and security questions about a product to determine an overall score, concern scores, and privacy rating to allow parents, teachers, schools, and districts to make an informed decision about whether to use the product. Basic evaluations do not answer all the possible questions of a full evaluation for a product, but still display the same overall score and concern scores as full evaluations based on answers to only the basic questions. You have several options for navigating these questions with background references and citations for more information.

Full Evaluation Questions

  • The following privacy evaluation questions are used in our full 150+ evaluation question process. Applications and services that receive a full evaluation are included in our research reports which include our recent 2021 State of Kids' Privacy Report. You can also view the Fair Information Practice Principles which were used in the creation of these questions and are universal principles that form the basis for national and international privacy regulations, guidelines, and best practices. You have several options for navigating these questions with background references and citations for more information.

Rating Questions

  • Parents and educators make decisions about privacy based on their specific needs and these needs can vary between use by children at home and students in the classroom. The privacy evaluation process is designed to support and augment an individual's awareness of privacy risks, not replace it. The evaluation questions incorporate the specific needs and the decision‐making process of parents and educators into three ratings using the following questions that are the most important factors used by parents and educators when making an informed decision whether to use a product.

Evaluation Concerns

  • Parents and educators share different concerns about the privacy and security practices of technology used by their children and students. Based on these concerns the Privacy Program created the following top-10 privacy evaluation concern categories. Each privacy concern category is organized by the most important and easy-to-understand privacy practices in order to quickly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a product and how that application or service compares to similar products. Each privacy evaluation concern is comprised of ten evaluation questions to provide a comprehensive analysis of the most important privacy practices of a product. Depending on the type of privacy evaluation, either all of the ten evaluation questions are used with a full evaluation, or only the most critical basic evaluation questions are used to comprise a concern's score with a basic evaluation.

Evaluation Statutes

  • All privacy laws are based on statutes enacted into law or administrative rules promulgated by agency regulations. Each privacy evaluation question is associated with one or more privacy laws. As such, we can calculate scores for each statute or regulation using only those questions associated with the statute or regulation. This type of statute score calculation is similar to our evaluation scores. Each specific statute or regulation's score serves as an indirect proxy indicating the likelihood of the application or service satisfying all of its compliance obligations for a particular privacy law.

Standard Privacy Report

  • The standard privacy report (SPR) displays all the privacy practices of a product's policies in a consistent easy-to-read outline like a nutrition label that can be compared to other products. The SPR indicates whether or not a product's policies disclose that they engage in each particular privacy practice and displays an alert icon when users should further investigate particular details prior to use. This alert icon indicates that the particular practice is risky or unclear.

Security Testing Questions

  • Privacy and security are intertwined, and security is the foundation of effective individual privacy. When evaluating whether to use a smart device or mobile app at home or in the classroom, parents and teachers need a comprehensive understanding of both the privacy and security practices of a smart device. To create a truly comprehensive evaluation process, the Common Sense Privacy Program combines a full evaluation of the privacy policies of a product with a hands-on security assessment. The result is the most comprehensive privacy and security evaluation of a smart device and companion application aimed at children and students currently available.