Reset Australia has recently released its “Did we really consent to this? Terms & Conditions” report to detail how convoluted terms and conditions have become.
In a world ruled by digital platforms and mobile devices, terms and conditions pop up every time you log in or download a new app/game. These terms and conditions are naturally important as they detail the rights and responsibilities of both the user and provider, as well as highlight key information regarding privacy and data collection. However, Reset Australia performed a deep dive into terms and conditions found on apps such as TikTok and Instagram to assess readability, accessibility, and understanding.
The report found the following:
1. Terms and conditions are not accessible to young people who use these platforms:
- Many terms and conditions are not immediately shown during sign up;
- 9 out of 10 platforms require a tertiary level reading age to properly understand them; and
- The average time to read through terms and conditions is 1 hour and 46 minutes.
2. Terms and conditions are intentionally ambiguous and difficult to understand:
- Platforms do not use the most effective techniques to promote understanding of terms and conditions, such as through Frequently Asked Questions or graphics and icons; and
- 8 out of 10 platforms use dark patterns in their sign-up process, which pushes users to accept data maximising options to achieve the ‘best user experience’.
3. Terms and conditions are not easily understood by young people:
- Reset Australia worked alongside YouGov to poll 400 16- and 17-year-olds to find that only 4% of these young people read terms and conditions all the time and only 7% are truly confident that they understood what they read;
- Moreover, 45% of young people never read terms and conditions and 20% say they do not understand any of it; and
- The children identified that the length of the documents, the legal jargon and disengaging layout made it difficult to parse the information.
As such, Reset Australia is calling for a new code for data collection for children under the age of 18, similar to the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code. It is imperative that children are protected from an early age, especially when it concerns their data. Thus, these apps and platforms must be held accountable and act in accordance with public interest through a regulatory code specifically designed for young people and their data and privacy.For the full reading of the article, see here.