Only The Paranoid Survive

Well quite. Definitely in fact if we are to believe Stephen Fry’s post on the terrifying Storm botnet that is quietly stalking the earth. And here’s some more reasons not to be cheerful. Edelman’s research subsidiary Strategy One did an online survey on behalf of Microsoft in August in the UK of 500 internet users on their attitudes to data security and privacy online. This is one of those surveys that is mainly “duh” to quote Mr H Simpson in that it puts numbers on what we all might have guessed . . but there is an “aha” at the end I promise:

DUH

  • 84% think guaranteeing privacy is very or fairly important when we go online and generally older people are more concerned
  • 89% think being protected against viruses and spam is very or fairly important
  • Search (63%), social networks (18%) and video clips (10%) are the ‘most enjoyed’ applications

AHA

  • Only a third of us (33%) ‘very often’ or ‘always’ check terms and conditions before signing up for a new online application . . . OK . . . that’s another duh, but look at this stat and compare it to the first.

I wonder how many of us are sleepwalking into dangerous places? Over the last few weeks I have been printing off the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of some major applications and online companies and they are pretty scary, not just in what they allow organisations to do with our data, but in their (in my humble view) calculated obfuscation. Most are over 10 pages of A4 and many are 20. This is a new frontier. Frankly we don’t know what it is we are signing up for, and whilst that means ‘shame on us’, it’s also ‘shame on them’. There is legislation around that makes complicated things easier for normal, busy people to understand. Check out your mortgage offer for example which has some plain English bullet-points that mean you can more easily compare it to other offers. The government decided here that dense and legally complex fine print was simply not good enough if the effect was that people did not know what they were getting into. Here’s my challenge: Think of your top two most used social media applications. Now go to the T&C page, print them off, wrap a cold towel around your head and try and work out what you have been giving away.

[tags] Security, privacy, terms & conditions [/tags]

Categories Technology

2 thoughts on “Only The Paranoid Survive

  1. Even 33% seems high for people actually taking the time to read the Terms and Conditions and not just:
    -assuming that we already know what they say
    -assuming they are standard, like every other Terms and Conditions we haven’t read…

    I’d even venture to say that most of that 33% lied to save face…

    Like

  2. True enooth points . . . . I too think the real number of those actually reading them is much lower. So have you glanced at your T&C’s yet? Be scared!

    Like

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