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Security & privacy

These companies have the WORST privacy policies

Before you sign up for a service or create a website account, there are usually pages and pages of terms of service, end-user license agreements and privacy policies to go through. Very few people take the time to read through it all. Tap or click here to quickly scan terms of service for the most data-hungry apps.

The terms and conditions are usually generic and while the language is different for each app or service, the overall message is the same. Interestingly, several websites and YouTube channels go over each painstaking line and explain it in layperson’s terms.

Unfortunately, some websites make these policies deliberately challenging to read. Here are the worst offenders.

Here’s the backstory

If you’ve ever taken the time to glance through a privacy policy or a website’s terms and conditions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The language often includes industry-specific jargon and superfluous or complicated words.

And don’t worry, as it’s not just you. To prove how difficult it is, VPN Overview compiled a Readability Index Score of the privacy policies of 50 major brands. It shouldn’t be surprising that over 60% of the policies looked at were almost unreadable. Most require at least a college-graduate reading level.

The study found that it will take you just over an hour to read through Instagram’s privacy policy, while the meeting app Zoom’s policy will take around 37 minutes.

Regarding how complicated some policies are, Wikipedia has long sentences at an average of 21 words. And though the Disney+ policy should take about 20 minutes to read, several sentences run 46 words or longer.  

What you can do about it

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do about complex and long-winded privacy policies. But it’s good to know who the biggest offenders are. Here are VPN Overview’s top 10 worst Privacy Policies ranked by readability score:

  1. Disney+ (2.83)
  2. Instagram (6.19)
  3. Coral (10.8)
  4. Zoom (15.01)
  5. Rightmove (15.54)
  6. Wayfair (19.3)
  7. Wikipedia (19.54)
  8. UPS (20.51)
  9. Adidas (23.54)
  10. Uber Eats (22.73)

Tech giants like Netflix and Slack found themselves in 12th and 13th positions. Spotify came in at 14th, and Xbox landed the 16th position.

You might miss important details if you simply glance over the text. For example, Disney says it shares your data with third parties. But once it reaches the third parties, the data is controlled by that company and becomes subject to the other company’s privacy practices.

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