Web speaks with forked tongue

Yet another business offering you a service and asking you for your personal details – but no “privacy” statement to say what they are going to do with your information once they have it? It is incredible how many websites ask you to sign on – asking for your e-mail address, name and surname as well as your mobile number – without telling you in no uncertain terms that your information will not be passed on to a third party (read: marketing fungus, …. err sorry, gurus).

Web speaks with forked tongue

There are occasions, though, where site owners (not webmasters, since they are not always the same) do make you aware of what they intend to do with your personal information. However, when you click on the privacy policy link, a page of legal jargon will pop up to “explain” that every reasonable step (?) will be taken to safeguard your privacy. If you are not a lawyer (conversant in double-speak) , which the average web user is not, such convoluted explanations only serve to frustrate and intimidate, not reassure.

Plain Speak

One of the advantages of living in the Republic of South Africa is that as a young democracy we have a lot of lessons to learn. Various industries in South Africa have been living by their “own codes” for a number of years – to the disadvantage of the average consumers.

Civil pressure groups are slowly but surely reigning in the “Wild West” attitude of some economic entities (businesses) by insisting that contracts, and other devilishly clever details, must be written in plainspeak, words and phrases the average customer will understand before he or she signs a contract or agreement. Hopefully, the same reasoning will prevail when it comes to “privacy statements” by the likes of Facebook, to mention but one.

Let’s push towards a “plainspeaking” web.