Comparison of Newspaper Characteristics to Privacy Policy Claims

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2016


Approximately 75 percent of internet users seek to maintain their privacy while engaging in various online platforms. Users of newspaper content are not independent of vulnerability to these risks. The transition of content from paper to digital has transformed the user experience in terms of privacy, vulnerability and information access by both user and provider. If a user is reading a physical newspaper, they simply pick up a newspaper and read it without the need to ‘accept’ any agreement, but the case is not always so in the form of digital delivery and online mediums. To further complicate matters for the user, privacy policies differ so drastically by provider that the understanding of differences and breadth of information is overwhelming as much as it is confusing. This paper reviews newspaper characteristics to privacy policy information. This information can aid subscribers of newspapers to better break down the confounding nature of privacy policies and what rights and protections they are afforded.

Data Results

There is in fact a clear connection between newspaper circulation and complexity of the respective privacy policy. The ability to generate a complex and thorough privacy policy can be understood through the lens of greater resource availability which results in hiring lawyers, experience in privacy policies which only adds to this perspective. It was fairly plain that the volume of words in the privacy policy was highly correlated with the understandability of various portions of the privacy policy. Circulation was indeed associated with difficulty of understandability. Conversely, newspaper quality, credibility, and politics did not possess the same significance to the difficulty of understandability of privacy policies. There is a very vague understanding as to whether privacy policy statements of newspapers are actually deployed, and if so, to what extent. Before understanding if they are doing what they say they are doing, one would first need to understand exactly what it is they are saying. This is the initial hurdle. The current weakness of this study is the small sample size - namely the utilization of Mondo Times. Future surveys and analyses could include a much larger swath of respondents as well as variables. Future research could potentially analyze the matching of policies to the success and/or failure in these circumstances and privacy policies.

Thanks to Steve Silva, Graduate Assistant, Boise State University, for writing this original abstract/summary of the paper.

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