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20 Hours a Month Reading Privacy Policies 161

Barence sends word of research out of Carnegie Mellon University calling for changes in the way Web sites present privacy policies. The researchers, one of whom is an EFF board member, calculated how long it would take the average user to read through the privacy policies of the sites visited in a year. The answer: 200 hours, at a hypothetical cost to the US economy of $365 billion, more than half the financial bailout package. Every year. The researchers propose that, if the industry can't make privacy policies easier to read or skim, then federal intervention may be needed. This resulted in the predictable cry of outrage from online executives. Here's the study (PDF).

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Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.