Facebook and Google Still Lagging Behind With their Privacy Policies

How often do you read the privacy policy on the website you’re using?

Tuesday 10th July 2018

It’s not usually our main concern when we log on to a site to read a blog post, or do a bit of banking. In fact, you might not have even noticed privacy policies before GDPR started to take hold.

But privacy policies are actually really important. They tell you whether the site you’re using respects and values your personal data. So if you’re concerned about your privacy and security online, the privacy policy is actually key.

Privacy policies also have to be very clear about the way data is used, and how you can opt out of those activities if you don’t want to be included. But most of us just accept them without thinking.

GDPR has been an interesting experiment in privacy policies. Some businesses have scrambled to change their policies to be more user-friendly. Some are still trying to use vague language. A few still haven’t updated their policies at all.

In fact, GDPR has effectively separated the companies that care about compliance and privacy  from the companies that don’t. But who are the worst offenders?

Has Your Favourite Website Stalled its Privacy Policies?

Small businesses could perhaps be forgiven for being overwhelmed by GDPR. Many of these businesses are muddling through what is a large and complex piece of legislation.

And yet it’s the big companies that are really surprising in their alleged lack of compliance.

According to the Guardian, Facebook, Amazon, and Google still haven’t developed the clear privacy policy wording required by GDPR.

They’re using unclear language, and in some cases, they are alleged to be making it difficult to opt out of things that GDPR is supposed to control.

BEUC, which is an EU organisation geared towards protecting consumer rights. It did what most of us never do: read each privacy policy in detail from the really big tech companies, and analysed each sentence in turn.

It found that many of the world’s biggest companies are still leaving gaping holes in their privacy policies.

GDPR is a Help, not a Hindrance

BEUC hopes to be able to develop a system that will automatically scan the wording of a privacy policy and pick out unclear sentences that were supposed to be removed under GDPR.

That could be helpful for consumers, but it could also help small businesses who can’t always pay for legal drafts of important documents.

There’s also a browser extension called Polisis already available that does much the same thing. And if you’re really curious, you can hop onto its website now and pick a policy that it’s already analysed.

If you don’t have time to read pages and pages of privacy policies -- and, let’s face it, who does -- Polisis is supposed to do it for you.

And it could help to force big companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon to play by the rules, be more specific in their wording, and iron out those pesky loopholes in their policy documents.

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