What are Privacy Icons?

Privacy icons are pictograms that visually display aspects of data processing linked/tied to the users’ online activity and their interaction with digital offers and services. 

The goal is to help users gain a better understanding of possible consequences of their activities and of the decisions that might impact their interests. Ideally, privacy icons should be quickly and intuitively understandable by everyone and support the decision-making process.

What do we need Privacy Icons for?

EU law obliges service providers / organizations to inform users about how and why their personal data is processed. This information is typically disclosed in lengthy and jargon-filled privacy policies. Often, users are required to consent to the collection and use of their personal data before they can benefit from online services.

However, people usually do not read privacy policies. Even if they do, they do not understand the possible implications of having their personal data used by an organization. Yet, people generally agree anyway. Privacy icons cannot fully solve this problem, nor they intend to entirely replace the legal document. However, they can highlight certain aspects of data processing and thereby increase awareness and attention of users to relevant privacy terms.