Consumer Watch: Website policies' fine print

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Every website has the tiny words "privacy policy" listed, usually in small text at the bottom of its website.  But do you really know what you're agreeing to when you click accept on its policy? Just because it is there doesn't mean it's easy to understand.

CNN consulted some legal experts who reviewed the privacy policies of many top websites and apps and their conclusion is that most are basically useless and confusing.

Here are what they believe are the red flags:

First -- experts say many of the policies are too vague.  Unclear and ambiguous language, written, not in layman's terms, arms companies with legal muscle. This reduces the power consumers have to fight back if their personal information is used wrongly.

Second -- the terms are usually open-ended. Companies collect a lot of your personal information but it is often without any real limits, so there's really no end to what they can use.

Third -- the experts say privacy policies change a lot. Companies constantly revise their own privacy rules and reserve the right to change them, so be on the lookout for that.

That said, without legal training, there's not much we can do beyond knowing what to look out for.
But it is important to at least have a healthy dose of skepticism before you hit "accept" on a website since our online privacy is becoming more and more importatnt every day.

If you have a consumer issue you’d like us to look into send an e-mail to consumerwatch@whas11.com.

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