06 Mar 2014
by Wei-Loong Chen, Eibhlin Hamman
Jargon, too much information (or not enough) and no contact details are all common flaws of privacy policies.
We are well and truly counting down to the start date of the changes to the Privacy Act on 12 March 2014. As part of the lead-up to the reforms, last year the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) released the results of a privacy sweep of almost 50 website privacy policies, which were assessed against new transparency requirements in the Privacy Act.
The results of the sweep were mixed, with many privacy policies held to be too long and complex.
In light of the Commissioner's findings, here are some tips for organisations as they get their privacy policies ready for 12 March 2014.
Readability: In the Commissioner's privacy sweep, it was found almost 50% of privacy policies were considered either too long or difficult to read, and none of the full policies met the OAIC's preferred reading age level of 14. Use clear and concise language, and avoid jargon and in-house terms. Consider testing your policy's readability level using publicly available readability tests (such as the Flesch-Kincaid or Gunning-Fog tests ) – your work processing program may even include a tool for this purpose. Above all, do not use legalistic expressions or quote directly from legislation.
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