PoliGraph: Automated Privacy Policy Analysis using Knowledge Graphs


Hao Cui, Rahmadi Trimananda, Athina Markopoulou, and Scott Jordan, University of California, Irvine


Privacy policies disclose how an organization collects and handles personal information. Recent work has made progress in leveraging natural language processing (NLP) to automate privacy policy analysis and extract data collection statements from different sentences, considered in isolation from each other. In this paper, we view and analyze, for the first time, the entire text of a privacy policy in an integrated way. In terms of methodology: (1) we define PoliGraph, a type of knowledge graph that captures statements in a privacy policy as relations between different parts of the text; and (2) we develop an NLP-based tool, PoliGraph-er, to automatically extract PoliGraph from the text. In addition, (3) we revisit the notion of ontologies, previously defined in heuristic ways, to capture subsumption relations between terms. We make a clear distinction between local and global ontologies to capture the context of individual privacy policies, application domains, and privacy laws. Using a public dataset for evaluation, we show that PoliGraph-er identifies 40% more collection statements than prior state-of-the-art, with 97% precision. In terms of applications, PoliGraph enables automated analysis of a corpus of privacy policies and allows us to: (1) reveal common patterns in the texts across different privacy policies, and (2) assess the correctness of the terms as defined within a privacy policy. We also apply PoliGraph to: (3) detect contradictions in a privacy policy, where we show false alarms by prior work, and (4) analyze the consistency of privacy policies and network traffic, where we identify significantly more clear disclosures than prior work.

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@inproceedings {290991,
author = {Hao Cui and Rahmadi Trimananda and Athina Markopoulou and Scott Jordan},
title = {{PoliGraph}: Automated Privacy Policy Analysis using Knowledge Graphs},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {1037--1054},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity23/presentation/cui},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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