cyber security information technology internet privacy surveillance

An easy way to track changes in user agreements, privacy policies, and other public web pages

Given the increasing license commercial (and non-profit) internet-based services take with our private data, it becomes increasingly important to pay attention to user agreements and privacy policies. It’s challenging enough to read those legalistic tomes once, much less keep track of their frequent changes. Reputable companies and organizations will automatically notify customers and members of changes to policies, but many include clauses relieving them of change notification responsibility. I could find no federal law holding them accountable to secure your acknowledgment of such changes.

Some years ago I found Change Detection, a free web service that allows you to monitor changes to the text content on any publicly accessible (no login) web page. I’ve used it to monitor changes to the user agreements and privacy notices (nearly always public pages) of the services and products I use. When the text on a monitored page changes, Change Detection sends me an email message that identifies the target page and shows exactly how it has changed. This relieves me of the burden of manually monitoring those policies. Change Detection automates the parts of change monitoring that humans perform poorly at—remembering and following through on tedious, boring tasks.