Social networking firms including Facebook and Twitter are being told to make it clearer to members how they collect and use their data.
A report by the UK Commons Science and Technology Select Committee says the firms’ terms and conditions are far too long and complex.
The MPs say users may not be aware of how their details can be used by websites and apps.
Any reasonable person would struggle with long privacy policies, they add.
The committee says reading such documents has been likened to “engaging with Shakespeare”.
And it says that the rules have been designed for use in US courtrooms and to protect organisations in the event of legal action rather than to convey information.
The Chairman of the Committee, Andrew Miller MP, pointed to an experiment where Facebook had manipulated users’ emotions by varying the stories they saw in their news feeds.
He said this “highlighted serious concerns about the extent to which ticking the ‘terms and conditions’ box can be said to constitute informed consent when it comes to the varied ways data is now being used by many websites and apps”.