You Can't Afford to Read the Fine Print

Actually reading online privacy policies would cost $365B per year
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2008 5:39 PM CDT
You Can't Afford to Read the Fine Print
The study's authors estimate it could take from 16 to 444 hours per person per year to read Web sites' privacy policies once.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(Newser) – No one bothers to read websites' online privacy policies. But if Americans did—just once a year for each site they visit—it would take 200 hours per person, amounting to $365 billion worth of lost time, Ars Technica reports. That may all be theoretical, but the researchers behind the study say it points to the ridiculous impenetrability of such policies.

"Websites need to do a better job of conveying their practices in usable ways, which includes reducing the time it takes to read policies," one analyst said. If companies can't do better, "regulation may be necessary to provide basic privacy protections." (Read more Internet privacy stories.)

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