Mozilla is working on a simple a straightforward set of icons that websites can use to make their often complicated privacy policies more transparent to users. The idea is to have a visual representation of how your personal data is being handled, with icons indicating whether it is shared with advertisers or sold to third parties, for how long collected information is stored, how easy it is for law enforcement to obtain visitor records and so on.
Mozilla lead designer Aza Raskin announced an “alpha release” of the icons and posted them on his blog along their respective explanations and variant with negative connotation. He wants the icons to work as a "bolt on" to existing privacy policies held on individual websites and potentially integrate the functionality onto browsers, so users how their data is being used at a glance every time they visit a website or sign up to a service.
Mozilla has not yet indicated whether this functionality will be included natively in their browser or not. Of course there’s also the issue that many websites purposely bury privacy disclosures in long legal documents and won’t be willing to adopt the icons if it brings a negative image to their business. Then again, Raskin argues that if enough websites adopt the “positive” privacy icons, the absence of the icons on other websites may become a warning sign to visitors.