Facebook, Google, and other websites across the internet push their customers into giving up their information through privacy invasive default settings, a “take it or leave it” option, and sly interfaces, according to an analysis.
As the Europe Union’s sweeping privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets in, consumers are seeing options to change privacy settings when they visit a website, but those websites are pushing consumers into sharing their information, an analysis shows.
Norway’s consumer council, Forbrukerrådet, did an analysis of how websites like Facebook and Google, among many others, borderline trick users into giving up their data, which under the GDPR users must consent into giving.
“Companies appear to have little intention of giving users actual choices,” according to Norway’s consumer council in its analysis.
Director of digital services for Norway’s consumer council, Finn Myrstad, says that the companies manipulate users into sharing information about ourself and that by doing so, it shows a lack of respect for their users by circumventing the idea of the GDPR.
The GDPR is the European Union’s sweeping regulation that went into effect May 25. Its aim was to give internet users more control over how their data is used. Since the overlap between European and American companies is so great, the regulation has effectively been placed on American websites. (RELATED: Facebook, Apple, Google, Others Meet To Discuss Future Of Privacy)
Among many things, the GDPR states that any website that collects data on European Union citizens must state what they collect their information for, how they use it, and give users the option opt-out of having their information shared or sold.
If a company fails to comply with the GDPR, they will face a fine of either 20 million euros or 4 percent of their annual turnover, which ever is greater.
The analysis of websites privacy settings pop-ups shows that users rarely change default settings and in many cases, “both Facebook and Google have set the least privacy friendly choice as the default.”
The analysis shows that when it comes to opting out of selected advertising, there is a “take it or leave it” mentality. Meaning, users are given “threats of lost functionality if users decline” to share their data for selected ads.
Websites also trick users into sharing their information by presenting selected ads created through sharing your information with ad sellers as “exclusively beneficial through wording and design.”
On top of that, other websites choose the confuse users by burying the privacy settings, making them difficult to find. “The privacy friendly choices require significantly more clicks to reach and are often hidden away,” the analysis shows.
Additionally, websites might even give users the illusion of choice. “In many cases, the services obscure the fact that users have very few actual choices, and that comprehensive data sharing is accepted just by using the service,” the analysis states. “The feeling of control may also convince users to share more information.”
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