Monday, October 3, 2016

Read those "Terms of Service" agreements!

As an attorney, I am forever advising people [and not just my clients] that they need to read every document before signing it.  Most folks agree that's the smart thing to do.  But do they always comply?

I think not.

It would take the average user 40 minutes a day to read all of - and that's every day - to read all of the privacy and terms of service policies that we encounter related to the different services that we're using all the time.”

A study out of the University of Connecticut asked volunteers to sign up for a new social networking site called Name Drop.  Buried within the lengthy Terms of Service was a clause that all information collected on the site would be shared with the National Security Agency [NSA].  Also included was a term that payment would include the user's firstborn child.


Only one person out of 500 volunteers objected to sharing his information with the NSA.  And 98% didn't even notice the firstborn clause.

The Name Drop social networking site wasn't real, and maybe the volunteers knew that, but I suspect those volunteers did was most of us do all the time.  Without reading the lengthy Terms of Service, we just blindly click on “I agree”.

Be careful what you sign, whether it's a hard-copy signature, an electronic signature, or otherwise.

7 comments:

  1. Ergh, I know! I read all T&C... except for the myriad of T&Cs associated with technology *hangs head in shame*. And the reason is exactly as stated above - I don't have time. Plus they're often written in gobbledegook so it isn't an easy read. I guess I keep my fingers crossed that the level of investment relates to the risk... eg read mortgage T&C, don't read pinterest T&C. I know you are going to slap my wrist now Dena!

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    1. No wrist-slapping here. I can definitely relate to what you're saying. But you might want to take a quick scan before clicking, just in case you're giving up your firstborn =)

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    2. Teenage boy... don't think I could give him away at times ;)

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  2. One issue is that the T&C comes up repeatedly in certain contexts. Every month when I pay certain bills, I click it without reading; I DID read it when I initially went in for online payments, but when it's down to "gee, am I just not going to pay the credit card bill - and ruin my credit?" - really, it doesn't so much feel like a choice. Plus, usually I pay bills already having put in a long day at the office. Nobody's got time for that noise.

    I'm a read-it-the-first-time-er, and I do peruse (if not deep-read) updates to terms when I see emails from various creditors/providers I've signed up with, but I absolutely don't re-read every dang time, nope.

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    1. It sounds like you do more than most people, so I give you five stars!

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  3. I learned the hard way when I was a teenager. I signed up for a one year plan to buy a LP album a month. Since then I usually read or scan at least.

    But I think some people on the business side are trained to hypnotise buyers or clients. I know one of my galleries did this to me over and over. Finally I broke the cycle when my husband accompanied me to the final meeting. They paid me 18 months of back payments and returned all of my paintings except for one.

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    1. Glad that resolved in your favor! Why did they keep the one painting?

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