Legal language is difficult to read and understand for most people. The language used has been developed over centuries to be both obscure and precise at the same time. This is helpful for risk, but terrible for communication and awareness.
Some organisations have resorted to publishing two sets of text side by side. One side is the legal text, the other what they call ‘plain english’ or ‘what this means’. It can be very helpful for people understanding. Others have taken different approaches. While I am not a fan of most of Uber’s business practices, they have recently come out with an attempt at helping people understand what they do with our data. The table that you can expand and download is a good visual attempt at communicating. There is limited legalise, but it is still not short. Personally, I think it communicates a lot better than some ‘fine print’ document.
However, there are things we can do online which we can’t in person. I suppose each Uber driver could have a print out of Uber’s privacy principles and the table, but quickly that would become unruly. Humanitarian agencies often collect most of the data about people in person, but again pamphlets quickly become unruly.
Perhaps we should resort to plain english. Perhaps we need a series of banners. And perhaps one size doesn’t fit all and what we need is multiple approaches. However, underlying all approaches is the need to care. We need to actually want to create awareness and understanding. Not to comply with some regulation or legalality, but we actually need to care. Without this mindset and value system, nothing will change.
How do you create awareness and understanding of what you do with the data you collect about people? Please let me know.