1-In-5 Internet Users Always Read Privacy Policies, But That Doesn’t Mean They Understand What They’re Reading

Though everyone is always saying “You’ve got to read the fine print,” most of us don’t do it. According to a new study, only 16% of Internet users claim to always read privacy policies of the sites and online services with which they share their private information.

Surprisingly, according to the new Global Internet User Survey from the Internet Society, only 12% of respondents admitted to never reading those privacy policies. That’s a smaller percentage than those who claim to have read every word of every policy, but as the Internet Society points out in its findings, “we do not know whether they read every clause and every word.”

And it looks like reading those policies might be like a futile endeavor for many people, as only 20% of those who say they’ve read at least some of the policies say they came away with a full understanding of what they had read while 37% admitted to have little to no idea what the policies meant.

As you can probably guess, the main reasons for skipping over or skimming privacy policies are that they are too long, too complicated, too packed with legalese — and you have to agree to them anyway.

On the online security front, Internet users are equally un-savvy. In spite of numerous hacks that have put users’ passwords at risk of becoming public, only 47% of the respondents reported that they always use separate passwords for sensitive data, and only 13% said they never share permissions with family or friends.

[via GigaOm]