Google, Facebook, Twitter face lawsuit over 'illegible, incomprehensible' privacy policies

Google, Facebook, Twitter face lawsuit over 'illegible, incomprehensible' privacy policies

Summary: A French consumer group is taking action over the three companies' refusal to alter their terms and conditions on privacy - including sending French users to documents in English.


A French consumer group has filed a lawsuit against Google, Facebook, and Twitter saying the companies' privacy policies are too complex for the average user to make sense of.

UFC-Que Choisir announced on Tuesday the suit had been filed with the Tribunal de Grande Instance, the French High Court in Paris, after months of negotiations between the advocacy organisation and the three web giants failed to yield any changes to their privacy policies.

UFC-Que Choisir demanded in June that the trio revise their the policies, saying they contained clauses that were unlawful or unfair.  The point at issue is the way the three companies collect, store, and exploit users' data — and that of their contacts — without their express consent, and without paying them anything for doing so.

"If the companies are getting greedy when it comes to data, they're on a diet when it comes to taking responsibility: they're abdicating all responsibility for their quality of service, which is provided "as is", and for the integrity of their data and content," UFC-Que Choisir said.

Despite lengthy negotiations with UFC-Que Choisir, Facebook, Google and Twitter's general terms of use still contain the clauses at issue, and the T&Cs themselves are "incomprehensible, illegible, filled with hyperlinks... and sometimes referring to pages in English", according to the group.

As a result, the group has decided to take legal action. "Faced with such abuse, UFC-Que Choisir has asked a French judge to order the removal or modification of the vast number of contentious clauses these companies impose," it added.

Until the judge rules on the matter, UFC-Que Choisir is asking consumers to sign a petition asking EU lawmakers to press ahead with proposed revisions to European data protection law, and to use anti-tracking tools when visiting the three sites.

Read more on privacy

Topics: Social Enterprise, Legal, Privacy, EU

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  • So

    The Frenchies argument is that they are too stupid to understand.
    And they would like everything for free, with nothing back in return.
    Sound par for the course.
  • they have a good point

    you don't have to be lawyer to understand the language.
    LlNUX Geek
  • What are the "clauses at issue"?

    I've gone over Google's Privacy policy many times and it is all pretty clear. Maybe the French translation is the issue.
    Bob Buchko
    • I actually thought

      It was one of the more clear, and concise privacy policy.
  • WHO'S confusing?

    (excerpted from a work previously posted elawwhere):


    1. Enter the following totals on FCC/IRS Form 1040-T (Communication surtax reporting form):

    a. Exempt words used to establish or conclude a taxable conversation. Add this number to the total in section 12, line 17.

    b. Taxable words. (Expletives and audible interjections must be counted.) Add this number to the total in section 13, line 6.

    c. Untaxable words. (Report all untaxable words spoken during the conversation. Untaxable words are: Words spoken by a non-resident, non-US citizen, and words used to further the National Security of the United States.)

    Add this number to the total number in section 14, line 11.

    2. Calculation of alternative minimum words and tax due.

    Add section 13, line 6, and section 14, line 11. Enter this number in section 17, line 4.

    Divide the number in section 12, line 17 by three. Write this number in section 17, line 5.

    Subtract section 17, line 5, from section 17, line 4. If the result is 0 or negative, multiply the number in section 17, line 4 by three and write the result in section 13, line 7.

    To calculate your tax, multiply the LARGER of either section 13, line 6 or section 13, line 7 by .05.

    Write this number in section 13, line 22. This is your conversation tax due.

    Pay not later than 12 days after the monitored conversation to:

    Chief Cashier,
    The Federal Communications Commission
    Gettysburg, PA 02814-7734


    Copyright, Cortland E. Richmond
  • Settings are a mess!

    Watch any non techy consumer try to work through these sites settings and you can see that they are as clear as mud!

    They are that way because someone has decided that they must be that way rather than be clear and unambiguous, that is a disgusting way to treat users.
    dumb blonde