NordVPN study shows how long it takes to read privacy policies

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NordVPN, a leading virtual private network (VPN) provider, has conducted a study to find out how long it takes to read the privacy policies of the most visited websites in Canada and around the world. The study found that the average privacy policy is over 6,000 words long, and it would take an average person over 27 minutes to read it.

NordVPN investigated the privacy policies of the top 20 websites in 19 countries, including heavyweights such as Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. On a global scale, the average privacy policy among the top 20 websites worldwide stretches to 6,461 words, requiring over 27 minutes to read.

This underscores that reading a month’s worth of privacy policies for 96 websites would consume approximately 43 hours of one’s time. The study analyzed the time required to read these frequently tangled texts and their complexity. The study also found that the readability of privacy policies is generally poor. Most privacy policies are written at a college-level reading level, and many are only readable by graduates.

In Canada, the study reveals that the average privacy policy spans 6,146 words. An individual typically reads around 238 words per minute, translating to almost 26 minutes per policy.

Reading all the privacy policies of the 20 most-visited Canadian websites would consume approximately eight and a half hours, while for the 96 websites visited monthly, it balloons to 41.3 hours. To put this in perspective, dedicating the same amount of time to a minimum-wage job would earn you roughly $479.46 USD or 646 CAD.

Also, differences surfaced among countries, with European nations featuring more comprehensive policies, driven by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While Germany boasted the longest policies, South Korea emerged with the shortest.

The research also employed the Coleman-Liau Index and Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) to assess the readability of privacy policies. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, boasted the lengthiest policies at 19,434 words but ranked among the most reader-friendly, alongside Twitter. On the flip side, Zoom emerged with the most perplexing privacy policy, with Netflix and PornHub not far behind.

The sources for this piece include an article in NordVPN.


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