As Congress continues to consider the need for privacy legislation, a number of organizations are working on new ways to better inform consumers about how data is collected, used, and shared online.  A roundup of recent developments:

  • Game developer Zynga has introduced an interactive tutorial called PrivacyVille.  Players who follow along and learn about the company’s privacy practices earn reward points that can be exchanged for virtual items in other Zynga games.
  • Dropbox, the cloud-storage service company, recently rewrote its Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Security Overview.  After users expressed concerns about the licensing language, Dropbox revised the data ownership section of its Terms of Service.  According to the company, the changes were intended to eliminate legalese and make clear “what’s yours is yours.”
  • Audience-measurement firm Quantcast has announced that it will start distributing the AdChoices icon for free to small- and medium-sized publishers that work with the company.  The icon, which is licensed by the Digital Advertising Alliance (“DAA”), takes users who click on it to a site where they can learn about online tracking and opt out of behavioral ads. 
  • The DAA has indicated that it is planning a consumer outreach campaign for the fall.  According to press reports, more than 70 ad networks have signed up for the DAA’s self-regulatory program since it was launched last year, along with several ad agencies, big brand marketers, and publishers. 

Many other companies are working on their own tools to improve transparency around data collection, use, and disclosure practices, all of which will be viewed as positive developments as the debate around the need for federal privacy legislation continues.