The Challenges and Impact of Privacy Policy Comprehension

ECIS 2020

17 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020

See all articles by Jana Korunovska

Jana Korunovska

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Bernadette Kamleitner

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Marketing

Sarah Spiekermann

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Date Written: June 2020

Abstract

The new information and communication technology providers collect increasing amounts of personal data, a lot of which is user generated. Unless use policies are privacy-friendly, this leaves users vulnerable to privacy risks such as exposure through public data visibility or intrusive commercialization of their data through secondary data use. Due to complex privacy policies, many users of online services unwillingly agree to privacy-intruding practices. To give users more control over their privacy, scholars and regulators have pushed for short, simple, and prominent privacy policies. The premise has been that users will see and comprehend such policies, and then rationally adjust their disclosure behavior. In this paper, on a use case of social network service site, we show that this premise does not hold. We invited 214 regular Facebook users to join a new fictitious social network. We experimentally manipulated the privacy-friendliness of an unavoidable and simple privacy policy. Half of our participants mis-comprehended even this transparent privacy policy. When privacy threats of secondary data use were present, users remembered the policies as more privacy-friendly than they actually were and unwittingly uploaded more data. To mitigate such behavioral pitfalls we present design recommendations to improve the quality of informed consent.

Keywords: Privacy Policies, Privacy Threats, Secondary-Data Use, Data Visibility, Comprehension, Personal Data Disclosure, Transparency, Social Network Service Site

Suggested Citation

Korunovska, Jana and Kamleitner, Bernadette and Spiekermann, Sarah, The Challenges and Impact of Privacy Policy Comprehension (June 2020). ECIS 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3604171

Jana Korunovska

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

Bernadette Kamleitner

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Marketing ( email )

Austria

Sarah Spiekermann (Contact Author)

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

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