A New Approach to Privacy Policy

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September 18, 2012 by Scott Innes

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Who actually reads the privacy policy before signing up with any website? I don’t even read them when my credit card is involved! According to Tech Republic, it would cost an individual an average of $2,533-$5,038 to actually read every policy they agreed to (based on the average working wage of Americans). That equates to nearly 200 hours devoted to reading these policies. The policies are too long and are formulated in such a way that it is nearly impossible for the average user to read the whole thing. Because of these reason, concerns about privacy evolved from the users. Who wouldn’t be worried when they are almost forced to accept something because of the sheer size and language of these policies?

Why don’t companies simplify their policies so that the average consumer has the chance to read and understand what it is they are agreeing to. I, myself, would not care if a company was using my interests, location, or any other information that they ask for a better customer experience. Does a 22-year old really need to be shown a Viagra add? They (and the company) might benefit from seeing an Amazon add showing that textbooks are cheaper online than at a local book store.

Take a look at Facebook’s Data Collection Policy. It clearly seperates all the sections that might be inportant to different users. If someone is concerned about cookies, they can click on the ‘cookies, pixels, and other system technologies’ section to understand their policy. You do not have to scroll through the document to find when concerns you. Although their policy is long, it is at least written in a language that the average consumer can read.

If you take a look at Isaweb, their privacy policy is literally 282 words if you include the title. How easy is that to read from a consumer’s point of view? There is no confusion and no time associated with reading their policy. Customers should feel 100% safe using their service since they understand what they will do with the information. This is how most policies should be written.

The concern with online privacy in the consumer’s minds was created by the companies themselves. They published these complex and impossible policies that created confusion. Why don’t the companies tell the consumers right to their face “we are going to sell your information to enhance your online experience”. I think that any concerns with privacy would be greatly reduced as there is no longer an aspect of confusion.

Links:

Tech Republic:                                  http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/security/reading-online-privacy-policies-cost-us-781-billion-per-year/7910

Facebook:                                                    http://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/

Isaweb:                                                                        http://lsaweb.com/privacy-policy/

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