76 Business Days: How Much Time it Would Take to Read Every Privacy Policy You Encountered in a Year

#Internet

Thu, Mar 8th, 2012 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, cites a study done by two researchers -- both then at Carnegie Mellon -- who decided to calculate how much time it would take to actually read every privacy policy a user would encounter while on the Internet over the course of a year. Reportedly, over two months if you read each and every one of them for 8 hours a day.

From the article:

First, Lorrie Faith Cranor and Aleecia McDonald needed a solid estimate for the average length of a privacy policy. The median length of a privacy policy from the top 75 websites turned out to be 2,514 words. A standard reading rate in the academic literature is about 250 words a minute, so each and every privacy policy costs each person 10 minutes to read.

Next, they had to figure out how many websites, each of which has a different privacy policy, the average American visits. Surprisingly, there was no really good estimate, but working from several sources including their own monthly tallies and other survey research, they came up with a range of between 1,354 and 1,518 with their best estimate sitting at 1,462.

So, each and every Internet user, were they to read every privacy policy on every website they visit would spend 25 days out of the year just reading privacy policies! If it was your job to read privacy policies for 8 hours per day, it would take you 76 work days to complete the task. Nationalized, that's 53.8 BILLION HOURS of time required to read privacy policies.

The final cost of reading privacy policies was quite impressive.

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