The UK Science and Technology Parliamentary Committee announced in a recent report that the terms and conditions (T&C) set out in agreements used by social media services are too long and complicated for the users to be sufficiently aware of how their information might be used and what redress they may have. Consequently, the T&C agreements are not fit for the purpose of obtaining informed user consent.
The committee called upon the UK government and data protection authorities to develop T&Cs that can better communicate the companies' practices to the users with respect to their privacy rights. The committee also urged the UK government to become more actively involved in developing global standards in the care and handling of personal data.
This report demonstrate the rapidly growing concern associated with Big Data, in particular social media data, and the regulators' willingness to develop good practices and seek ways in which the users of services will better understand how their data may be used and how to judge the ethical standards of service providers. These concerns underscore the importance of developing clear and plain T&C agreements and supplemental policies, which will allow users to better understand how to actively protect their privacy.