This sounds kinda obvious to me but there’s some recent research from Carnegie Mellon University into the subject that’s got potential to be eye opening to a degree.  They came to the conclusion that the average user would take 200 hours to read through the privacy policies of the sites they visit in the course of one year.  And since everything these days is translated in to money, they also determined that this would have a hypothetical cost to the US economy of $365 billion, more than half the value of the big money bailout package.

It’s obvious because anybody who has ever taken the time to read a privacy policy in full will know that because they’re almost always written in legalese, they’re rather difficult to read and overly verbose.  Never let it be said that a lawyer will say something in 200 words when he could use two thousand.

Privacy policies need to be brief and easy to understand.  For example, like many sites, this one has a “policies” page.  There’s a section in it covering my privacy policy. It’s three short paragraphs long and I think it’s clear enough.  What’s great is that I didn’t have to get somebody to translate it into legalese and make it thirty times longer.

Is it any wonder why most people just click through a privacy policy or End User License Agreement without bothering to read it?  Who want’s to spend ten to twenty minutes trying desperately to translate legalese in their head?  I for one have enough migraine headaches without adding to the problem that way!

Technorati Tags: privacy policies, legalese, privacy, hard to read, too long

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