The Real Truth About Privacy Policies — Debunking the Myths

Last Updated: June 11, 2021

Everybody knows a thing or two about privacy policies. However, the truth is that most of what the majority know is nothing but myths and fables passed down from one misinformed person to the other. This makes the area of privacy policies a very dark one. 

In a day and time where online privacy is becoming almost more precious than gold, it is germane that we are acquainted with all the different privacy policies that can affect us in one way or the other. 

In this article, we would be demystifying all the grey areas about privacy policies, debunking the myths, and clarifying the truths. 

What Is a Privacy Policy? 

A privacy policy is any legal statement or document that states how a company, organization, or entity will collect, use, and manage clients’ or customers’ data. These policies are written to let the client have preliminary information regarding the leverage that a company would have over the user’s data.

The fact that the policies usually have a space for customers’ consent means that it’s possible for a person to not agree to a company or organization’s privacy policy. However, this would mean that such a person cannot use or access the services of such a company until there is a change that favors the affected party. Most applications cannot be used or, in other cases, installed if the user does not agree to the privacy policy. 

Why Are There Myths About Privacy Policies? 

One thing that everybody cannot deny about privacy policies is that they are readily available for all. They are always on the first page of applications and platforms you try to join. Although these policies are written out and available for all to read, people are still ignorant about them. It begs to ask why. It’s simple; people don’t read them. This is the top reason.

The average smartphone user has an average of 50 apps on his device. It’s, however, appalling that he never reads the privacy policy for any of these apps. Recent research reports that over 91 percent of mobile phone users do not read privacy policies before agreeing to them. People are almost disinterested in reading privacy policies. They do not read them due to the reasons we have listed below. 

1. Impatience and Anxiety

Most times, people are either overly anxious or impatient. They feel the privacy policies are too lengthy, ambiguous, and boring. Most people don’t see it as part of the fun of using the app. They only want to get to the other side of the fun where they can use the app, leaving an essential aspect of the app’s use to myths and hearsay.

2. Misplaced Values

Many people do not think that privacy policies aren’t of any importance. They feel it’s the services the apps or platforms offer that is more important. So, they skip the more important part that affects what companies do with data they mine from them. 

3. Myths and Hearsays

This is another reason people do not read privacy policies; the many myths and misinformation already propagated about these policies. These are the myths we want to deal with in this article. Many people do not know better, and leaving it this way will only do more harm than good to internet users in the long run. People would remain uninformed and at risk of data misuse by the organizations they trust their data with. 

Debunking Myths About Privacy Policies 

We would try to debunk these myths and make grey areas clear, although we may be unable to tell you everything there is to know about privacy policies. Most importantly, reading this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have to read all the privacy policies you come across after now. This should motivate you to read them. Now let’s get to it. 

Myth 1: Privacy Policies Are Not Important

This is one huge myth about privacy policies. A lot of people think it is not important. They see it as a mere formality that every app needs to complete. They believe the privacy policies are more for the company than for them. So they do not see the need to read it. This is not true.

A privacy policy is a set of agreements between a company and its clients regarding how much access and leverage it has over its data. These agreements are more about the client than the company. It’s your data they are making an agreement over. What data they have access to and what they do with it matters. That is some rather important information that you should take note of. 

Myth 2: Privacy Policies Always Ensure My Data Is Safe and Secure

People mostly assume that since it’s a privacy policy, it would ensure that my data is safe. This also is not always the case. A privacy agreement usually contains 3 basic things: the what, the why, and the how. 

“What” refers to the nature of the data that’s being collected from you. “Why” refers to the acclaimed reasons why this company needs the data they have collected. 

“How” refers to how they disburse your data, what they do with it etc. Some companies have sections in their policies that might be detrimental to you. They may make you agree that you can’t opt-out of different parts of the agreement. That’s how disastrous it could sometimes be. Also, there can be breaches that may not be the direct fault of the company involved. They can only try their best since hackers do not obey privacy policies. 

Myth 3: Privacy Policies Are Always Too Lengthy and Difficult to Understand 

For a long time, this was true. When most apps and social media platforms started offering agreement policies, it was usually very lengthy and boring. If you attempted reading, you ended up with the impression the company thinks you should have attended law school.

This is because of the many legal jargon that permeated the policies. But over time, that has changed. Most companies have discovered that many people do not read their privacy policies because of these reasons. So they’ve found ways to shorten it and make it more readable, say like a blog post. It still, however, carries a rather serious tone. 

Myth 4: A Business Will Always Adhere to Its Part of the Privacy Policies 

This is one heavy assumption that a lot of people have. They do not read because they think the companies or organizations would stick to their side of the deal. It is understandable to feel this way, but it is far from the truth. While it is true that they are bound by the agreement they made and are expected to keep to their side of the bargain by upholding the deal, this is not always the case.

Companies like Snapchat and Facebook have come under terrible scrutiny in the past for privacy law breaches. In 2014, Snapchat came under fire for failing to keep to a part of its Privacy Policy. FTC discovered that the social media company had failed in its promise to use the vanishing medatassage function. The bigger scandal was when Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg faced the US Congress over a data breach that affected over 87 million accounts. That’s a lot; as much as companies may be diligent in trying to protect your data, that would not always be the case. 

Conclusion

We have addressed the myths about privacy policies; now you know the truth. This would mean that as a user, you would become more careful as regards privacy policies. However, this is also a call to the public to pay more attention to privacy policies as they are mostly written for the user. It’s good to know what’s written about you, especially if it concerns your online privacy.