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November 28, 2014

Social media companies told to clarify T&Cs

Concerns raised regarding users data and what constitutes 'informed consent'.

By CBR Staff Writer

Social networking companies including Facebook and Twitter have been told to simplify and clarify their terms and conditions to users.

The UK Science and Technology Committee has appealed to the Government to work with the Information Commissioner and create a set of information standards to be used by websites and apps, in addition to companies committing to clarify terms on using personal data.

The UK Science and Technology Committee Chair Andrew Miller said: "Facebook’s experiment with users emotions highlighted serious concerns about the extent to which, ticking the terms and conditions box, can be said to constitute informed consent when it comes to the varied ways data is now being used by many websites and apps."

"Let’s face it, most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand."

"Socially responsible companies wouldn’t want to bamboozle their users, of course, so we are sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to the new guidelines on clear communication and informed consent that we are asking the Government to draw up."

The report targeted apps which requested user information which they did not apparently need, but seeked in a bid to gain access to a device.

Miller said: "A line also needs to be drawn between the information that apps actually need to provide a service and the kind of personal information they often request when registering new users, information that is becoming increasingly valuable in our networked society.

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"I hope that a voluntary system of guidelines can work, because, if not, legislation might be needed."

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