Consumer advocates say Aussies are subject to 116 privacy policies


Consumer advocates claim Aussies are subject to an ‘unacceptable’ number of privacy policies at any one time, most of which won’t protect people from data misuse.

Australian consumers are subject to 116 privacy policies at any one time – a load that would take more than 30 hours to read through – with the chance of data misuse nonetheless remaining high.

Consumer advocacy group Choice on Friday said it was no surprise most people ignore the privacy policies in full from their smart devices, smartphone apps, websites they visited, and subscriptions and loyalty programs they’re a member of, given they contain a combined average 467,000 words of complicated legalese.

Choice consumer data advocate Kate Bower said it was “completely unacceptable” that Australians have to read such lengthy privacy policies if they want to be able to fully understand how companies are using their personal data.

“Our research shows that notice and consent alone won’t protect Australians from data misuse,” Ms Bower said.

“Instead of expecting every consumer to read about the detailed ways in which their data could be used by businesses, we should have clear rules to stop businesses using data in ways that harm consumers.”

To mark international Data Protection Day, Choice is calling for urgent reform to the Privacy Act, with a move away from the current notice and consent model to one that requires businesses to act responsibly and ethically in the first place.

“Australians should not be put in a position where they have to choose between accessing a product or service, and giving over their data to a business to use indefinitely in ways that could cause them harm,” Ms Bower says.

“We want to see businesses putting Australians first by only collecting data that is needed to provide the service or product they’re offering and making sure that they use data in ways that help consumers, not hurt them.”

“We know this can be achieved by reforming the Privacy Act so that businesses are legally required to use customer data responsibly and fairly and fairly.”

In December 2019 the federal government announced it was conducting a review of the Privacy Act 1988 “to ensure privacy settings empower consumers, protect their data and best serve the Australian economy”.

Submissions on a discussions paper closed two weeks ago, with further consultation occurring alongside consultation on the exposure draft- external site of the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (Online Privacy Bill).

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