Web users tangled
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released the results of a ''privacy sweep'' of the websites most used by Australians.
in privacy policies
The sweep was part of the first international internet privacy sweep, an initiative of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) which assessed almost 50 website privacy policies for accessibility, readability and content.
The websites were also assessed against new transparency requirements in the Privacy Act that will come into effect on 12 March 2014.
The sweep also found the average reading age of the policies was 16 and none of the full privacy policies met the OAIC's preferred reading age level of 14; while more than 65 per cent of privacy policies raised concerns about the relevance of the information provided.
For example, some sites with .au domain names were unclear about whether the site complied with the Privacy Act 1988.
Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim said the results of the sweep were mixed, with 83 per cent of the sites having one or more issues in the areas of easy to find, easy to read, contacts for further information, relevance and length.
“It is a concern that nearly 50 per cent of website privacy policies were difficult to read,” Mr Pilgrim said.
“On average, policies were over 2,600 words long.
“In my view, this is just too long for people to read through.”
He said many policies were also complex, making it difficult for most people to understand what they were signing up to.
“We did see some instances where organisations provided both a simplified and full policy to assist their customers to understand what will happen to their personal information,” he said.
“This attempt to use ‘layered’ privacy policies is encouraging.”
Edition 375, 20 August 2013