Design of websites and apps makes protecting privacy harder: Privacy Commissioner

Courtesy Barrie360.com and Canadian Press

By Canadian Press Staff, Published July 9, 2024

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada says a review of websites and mobile apps has found that deceptive design patterns that make it difficult for people to protect their privacy are not only prevalent, but often worse among those geared toward children.

The conclusions are based on a sweep conducted earlier this year of more than 1,000 websites and mobile apps, by the commission, along with 25 privacy enforcement authorities from across Canada and around the world.

The global report says 97 per cent of websites and apps reviewed were using one or more deceptive design pattern that may influence people into giving away more of their personal information online.

The report also says more than 89 per cent of privacy policies were found to be long or used complex, university-level language.

The commission said emphasizing privacy options, using neutral language, clearly presenting choices and reducing the number of clicks for a user to find information, log out, or delete an account are all ways to help users better protect their privacy.

Privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne says websites and apps should be designed with privacy in mind and that includes providing privacy-friendly default settings and making privacy information easy to find.

“Integrating privacy by design and privacy by default helps to promote the best interests of individuals, and builds trust, by offering individuals online experiences that are free from influence, manipulation, and coercion,” Dufresne said in a statement.

Patricia Dent

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