The days of tech firms hiding behind confusing and lengthy privacy policies to manage their data practices could finally be over after the Government revealed plans to order the likes of Facebook and Twitter to be more open about how they use customers’ information.
In the wake of Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has summoned tech giants to a meeting next month amid plans to get them to issue simple, bullet-point guides on how their data is handled.
According to reports, Facebook’s T&Cs run to 3,700 words, while Twitter’s are nearly three times that at 11,000 words.
Hancock told The Sunday Times: “Social media companies have a duty of care to citizens and are currently failing in this. People are bewildered by pages of unwieldly terms and conditions. I want these boiled right down so people can see in one glance what they’re signing up to.”
The issue is hardly a new one – the Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee demanded action more than four years ago – but at last it seems the Government is getting the message.
In a 2014 report called Responsible Use of Data, the committee said that the T&Cs are “not fit as a mechanism for demonstrating that users have given informed consent for some of the ways companies are now exploiting personal data”.
It added: “Drafted by lawyers, to be used in American court rooms, the contents of terms and conditions have been designed to protect organisations in the event of legal action.”
The committee called on the Government to work alongside the Information Commissioner’s Office to develop a set of standards social media firms can sign up to, “committing themselves to explain how they use personal data in clear, concise and simple terms”.
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