What’s the point of Privacy Policies?

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A few minutes ago, I had just downloaded the MTV app on my Android device. Once it got installed, I opened it, and the first thing I’m asked to do is “READ” and “AGREE” to the policy. Well, father please forgive me for I have sinned. I didn’t read the policy, I lied to MTV. What has this world come to? I should be ashamed of myself because EVERYONE always reads the policy…wait no they don’t.

So why do we just agree to services we might not want? Is it because reading an agreement is only fascinating to lawyers?

I blame the lonnngg 8 page essay format. Nobody has the time to read an essay that is 20 minutes long. Especially, when the main goal is to quickly have access to all the contents of the app or site. By the way, I did challenge myself to read Google’s Privacy Policy, and I must say it very easy to understand but some sentences did make me a little paranoid. For example, “We aim to maintain our services in a manner that protects information from accidental or malicious destruction. Because of this, after you delete information from our services, we may not immediately delete residual copies from our active servers and may not remove information from our backup systems.” Now I know why some things never truly get deleted from the internet. I didn’t know sites, in this case, Google keeps backups of your contents. But at the same time, this is the same technology that powers the “autosave” or “recent” feature that most websites have, including my favorites Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and I’m assuming most phone’s Gallery app. How else is it possible to recover an accidentally deleted photo a few seconds after? It’s because they get stored or back up to a folder separate from the usual device’s storage folder without us even realizing it.

In all, is having your contents always backed up somewhere and can never get deleted even I after you deleted the account something to worry about? No, I think it’s more about being careful about what contents you share beforehand. If you wrote a nasty email to your boss but never sent it and just deleted it instead, there should always be the thought that “it still exists somewhere”. The same idea applies to posting a public profile picture on Google’s weird social site Google+. Even if you deleted that photo from the site or the account in general, just know that the picture will still appear somewhere (Google Search most likely).

Another sentence I found questionable is “Google processes personal information on our servers in many countries around the world. We may process your personal information on a server located outside the country where you live.” What does that even mean? The words that resonate with me the most are “your information (is) outside the country you live”. I’m sure this is no big deal but since I don’t exactly know what Google is trying to say, it has me a little confused. First of all, what is my personal information doing in another country? I know…they wrote “may” instead of “is” but it still raises questions. Also, what is the “process” are they talking about, it makes it sound like they are the TSA or something. But like I said, I’m sure I’m overreacting.

So let’s get back to my question, why don’t we read the policy? I came up with a few reasons as to why.

1. THE TEXT IS TOO DAMN LONG

Why can’t companies just summarize everything in one sentence? Suggestion; “We want to be your stalker without going to jail, click agree to continue”. I’m sure people still wouldn’t read or care about that policy and just click agree.

2. THEY DONT BREAK DOWN THE POLICY BY SECTIONS

Google did a great job at dividing the texts into paragraphs, sections, and categories. It made it extremely easier on the eyes to read 1 page in less than 5 minutes. People’s attention span lowers every minute so if the first thing they see is an essay, they’ll bet bored and move one. On a good day, I’ll read maybe the first 5 sentences then give up and just scroll down to “agree” and move on.

3. WHO CARES

seriously, who cares about the privacy policy or terms and conditions. I just want to use the app. Like have no plan to sue you in the near future nor am I a lawyer.

4. THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR AGREEING WITHOUT READING

Well, a consequence might be agreeing to or giving constant for the app to share your location, visited sites, name, phone number, photo, address, and credit card number with “third parties”. The worst part is that they don’t tell you who those third parties are. Oh well, that won’t stop me from using Google products. Also, theres no way the company can detect that you didn’t read their policy. Maybe they should quiz us before we can agree to their service.

5. THEY DONT WANT US TO READ IT

I have a feeling that they prefer if we didn’t read their policy. For instance, if their policy was perfectly laid out and easy to read…we would for sure find something we don’t like. Most likely, that would cause a decrease in the number of users register for their services. Would you still use Instagram if you knew that you’re waiving one our rights?

“BY ACCESSING THE SERVICE, YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU MAY BE WAIVING RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO CLAIMS THAT ARE AT THIS TIME UNKNOWN OR UNSUSPECTED, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUCH WAIVER, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND, AND HEREBY EXPRESSLY WAIVE, THE BENEFITS OF SECTION 1542 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF CALIFORNIA, AND ANY SIMILAR LAW OF ANY STATE OR TERRITORY

In all, Terms and Vonditions and privacy policies are important…for the creator not the user. Regardless, users should at least look at the documents once just to really see what they are allowing the app to do with their personal information.

Have you ever read a whole term and conditions for a app or service? Share your experience in the comment section below. 

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