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Opinion | We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster. - The New York Times

🔒 www.nytimes.com

This has some great visualization of various privacy policies. It’s telling how companies that tend to have a pro-privacy bend like Craigslist and Duck Duck Go are readable in a couple minutes with high-school level education. Facebook requires 18 minutes and a college level education. CNN and Hulu require you to be a legal professional to understand them. Airbnb is in a world of its own.

Airbnb’s privacy policy, on the other hand, is particularly inscrutable. It’s full of long, jargon-laden sentences that obscure Airbnb’s data practices and provides cover to use data in expansive ways. For example, here is how Airbnb justifies collecting users’ personal information. Vague language like adequate performance” and legitimate interest” allows for a wide range of interpretation, providing flexibility for Airbnb to defend its data practices in a lawsuit while making it harder for users to understand what is being done with their data.

This is where services such as Terms of Service; Didn’t Read should be able to help crowdsource these intentionally obfuscated documents and turn them into something that normal people can understand. However, these services, like many in the pro-privacy space, aren’t exactly taking off like wildfire.

Posted on June 13, 2019

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