Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has raised concerns with lengthy and complex website privacy policies after releasing the results from a privacy sweep of Australia’s 50 most visited sites.
The sweep took place in May this year to see if privacy policies could be easily understood and accessed.
Pilgrim said the results of the sweep were mixed with 83 per cent of sites having one or more issues such as accessibility, contacts for further information, relevance and length.
“It is a concern that nearly 50 per cent of website privacy policies were difficult to read,” he said in a statement.
“On average, policies were over 2600 words long. In my view, this is just too long for people to read through.”
He added that many privacy policies were also complex, making it difficult for most people to understand what they were signing up to.
Pilgrim said that some policies could not be accessed by Australians who were blind or disabled.
“Privacy policies need to be accessible by all users. This means that policies should be in formats that can be read by people using assistive technologies like a screen reader."
However, he added that there were some instances where organisations provided both a simplified and full policy to assist their customers to understand what will happen to their personal information.
“This attempt to use layered privacy policies is encouraging,” said Pilgrim.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick