Ever tried to read the fine print relating to your online privacy? We have and we’ve discovered many are pretty bamboozling. Some privacy policies are so badly written that half of Brits can’t understand them.
Which? Computing devised a simple electronic test taking 10 clauses from the privacy policies of online heavyweights – including Twitter, Hotmail, Paypal and Google – and then challenged 100 people to pick the correct explanation from our multiple choice answers. It couldn’t be that hard, could it?
Privacy terms misunderstood by most
And only 26% correctly interpreted a clause from file storage site Dropbox, despite 59% of our examinees claiming they found it to be quite or very clear.
Online T&Cs often go unread
While many privacy terms are misunderstood, the majority don’t bother to read them at all. Only 13% of people actually bother to read websites’ T&Cs according to our survey. And just 8% said they carefully read the full T&Cs of an online service before clicking accept.
The length of these policies is one reason they go unread. As my colleague Richard Parris has previously pointed out many policies are longer than the longest of Shakespeare’s plays.
Does it matter if you don’t read T&Cs
Little wonder people don’t read these terms; I wouldn’t. But the fact remains that we should know what we’re consenting to. You could, for example, be consenting to your details being sold on to a third party that you’ve never even heard of.
We have worked hard to make our own privacy policies accessible and easy to read and other websites should do the same. How can people be expected to understand them if they’re so long, full of legal jargon and badly worded?