Macro/Finance Group, NIPFP

Disclosures in privacy policies: Does notice and consent work?

Disclosures in privacy policies: Does notice and consent work?, Rishab Bailey, Smriti Parsheera, Faiza Rahman, Renuka Sane. NIPFP Working Paper 246, December 2018.

This paper evaluates the quality of privacy policies of five popular online services in India from the perspective of access and readability -- do the policies have specific, unambiguous and clear provisions that lend themselves to easy comprehension? We also conduct a survey among college students to evaluate how much do users typically understand of what they are signing up for. We find that the policies studied are poorly drafted, and often seem to serve as check-the-box compliance of expected privacy disclosures. Survey respondents do not score very highly on the privacy policy quiz. The respondents fared the worst on policies that had the most unspecified terms, and on policies that were long. Respondents were also unable to understand terms such as "third-party", "affiliate" and "business-partner". The results suggest that for consent to work, the information offered to individuals has to be better drafted and designed.