privacy policies 23234

How much time do you have to read the privacy policies you encounter?

In The Cost of Reading Privacy Policies, by Aleecia M. McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor, the authors calculate that the average Internet user would have to spend one full working month per year in order to skim all the Internet privacy policies she encounters in a year. Mike Masnick reports on Techdirt…

In fact, a new report notes that if you actually bothered to read all the privacy policies you encounter on a daily basis, it would take you 250 working hours per year — or about 30 workdays. The full study (pdf) by Aleecia M. McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor is quite interesting. They measure the length of privacy policies, ranging from just 144 words up to 7,669 words (median is around 2,500 words) and recognize that at a standard reading pace of 250 words per minute, most privacy policies take about eight to ten minutes to read. They also ran some tests to figure out how long it actually takes people to read and/or skim privacy policies.

They put all of this together and estimated that it would normally take a person about 244 hours per year to read every new privacy policy they encountered… and even 154 hours just to skim them.

Here’s the key takeaway from the abstract: “Studies show privacy policies are hard to read, read infrequently, and do not support rational decision making.”

Of course, that’s just the privacy policies. Throw in the EULAs and other fine print and you’ve got yourself a full-time job.

To Read All Of The Privacy Policies You Encounter, You’d Need To Take A Month Off From Work Each Year