About the project

This project provides a local google chrome web extension that provides a summary of a website's terms and conditions page. A pop-up appears when clicking on the web extension icon, with the summarised content of the terms and conditions.

Inspiration

After brainstorming for quite some time with ideas ranging from health and fitness apps to daily planners, we came across a problem affecting everyone browsing the internet: the struggle of scanning through huge blocks of terms and conditions and finding the ones which are actually important. We endeavoured to create an easy-to-use chrome extension to summarise terms and conditions into the most common ones affecting users.

What it does

Summarise My T&C scans webpages to find their terms and conditions and outline the most important ones so that you are always aware of what's in the fine print.

How we built it

We followed the chrome developer documents to set up a Chrome extension. We then used JavaScript and HTML to build a basic chrome extension that could find any "a" tags on a website which contained synonyms with 'terms and conditions', such as 'privacy' and 'agreement'.

We then fetch the contents of this site and use an external javascript implementation of the TextRank algorithm to summarise the most significant portions of a website's terms of service, to display on the chrome extension. This is automated each time a user opens the extension on a new website.

Challenges we ran into

The main challenge that we ran into was that different websites use different html structures, and that not all websites store the page containing the terms and conditions in the footer. This made it harder to find the terms and conditions for all websites, especially considering that we needed to work around some of the chrome extension functionality. But after some pair-programming we were able to successfully find the terms and conditions for a range of websites. The second main challenge was the html and contents of the page storing the actual terms and conditions. In most cases, there was so much content that the TextRank algorithm used simply took too long to generate a summary. In other cases, the content itself was not so easily accessible, again due to varying html structure.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud of having an extension which can detect pages containing terms and conditions within a website, as we realised these links are quite hidden visibly to the user, on top of being extremely long to read. We are also proud of our use and adjustment of the Text Rank algorithm to better suit our project needs, prioritising speed, accuracy, and succinctness simultaneously.

What we learned

Many of us aren't very comfortable using JavaScript so this gave us an opportunity to learn a new programming language under time pressure.

Additionally, having no experience creating a chrome extension before, we now understand the required technologies and structure required for an extension.

What's next for Summarise My T&C

As a non-for-profit organisation, we seek to better protect all internet users by providing our extension as a free, automated add-on for all browsers.

Features we seek to improve in the future are:

  • Better algorithmic detection for critical and illegal policies
  • Deployment across different web and mobile browsers
  • A rating system which determines the overall risk associated with agreement

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