Online Privacy Policies Are Lengthy, Complicated and Reveal Alarming Trends - Slide 6

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However, in regards to consumer disclosures, many websites still fall short:

  • 93 percent of the websites do not disclose how long they keep customer data on file; and
  • 68 percent do not explain how a user can delete an account.

TRUSTe, a leading online privacy solutions provider, recently released its first privacy index as part of its new "Privacy Pulse" information series tracking changes and trends in online privacy. In the 2011 website edition of its privacy index, TRUSTe analyzed the privacy policies of the top 100 U.S. websites (as ranked by Alexa Sept. 2011) to evaluate privacy practices by measuring key policy attributes, as well as the type of disclosures contained in them. TRUSTe found that while nearly 100 percent of websites today include a privacy policy, existing policies are highly complex, lengthy and written in language that is confusing for the average person to understand. Additionally, the vast majority of privacy policies are not readily transparent regarding third-party usage of data or consumer choices.

"Clearly, more work needs to be done to deliver shorter, more accessible privacy policies that can be quickly and easily understood by consumers, so that they have the ability to make choices regarding the sharing of their personal information," said Chris Babel, CEO of TRUSTe. "By releasing this first privacy index and launching our new 'Privacy Pulse' information series, TRUSTe is dedicating its substantial expertise and resources to further educate the market about responsible online privacy practices — including privacy policies. We believe that this open approach brings tremendous value by identifying the changes that are needed to provide more transparency and build online trust. This, in turn, paves the way for the successful implementation of new and innovative online technologies."

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