The terms and conditions used by the likes of Facebook and Twitter have been likened to “engaging with Shakespeare” by a Parliamentary report, which claims most T&C contracts are simply not fit for purpose.
In a report called Responsible Use of Data, the Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee says 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 adds: “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 is calling 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”.
The MPs believe current legislation is no longer sufficient “now that data moves more easily across digital platforms and that technologies can be used to analyse multiple sets of such data in real time”.
The report adds: “Whilst legislators have reflected on how regulation should be updated, governing bodies are floundering when it comes to the details of legislation. The draft EU General Data Protection Regulation has attracted criticism from industry, and progress on agreeing a final commitment has not been forthcoming.”
It says the Government has a clear responsibility to explain to the public how personal data is being used to make improvements to products and facilities. “The Government needs to lead the conversation around security of personal data, so that in future years, members of the public can engage with online services with the confidence that their personal data is secure.”
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