It’s no secret that almost every single person skips reading the terms and conditions when signing up for an app or making a purchase or just doing any everyday thing that requires a user to click “I agree.” I can not count the number of times I have quickly scrolled to the bottom of the legal statement to click the button, not even bothering to look at the first sentence. In my mind, these terms are just an everyday part of life and everyone else doesn’t bother reading them so why should I? I also think to myself, I’m just a teenage girl who watches too much Netflix and likes hanging out with my friends, who would want to steal my data.
After reading “Do You Read Terms Of Service Contracts? Not Many Do, Research Shows” by NPR, I couldn’t help but laugh at the experiment. In the article, David Greene and Shankar Vedantam, who is a social science correspondent, talk about how no one reads the terms and conditions and what that means. An experiment was run and “buried in the agreement was the disclosure that anything users shared would be passed along to the NSA.” I was surprised to learn that one volunteer was concerned. I honestly wouldn’t have expected even one person to read through the disclosure. In this digital age, where the internet and the terms and conditions that come with it are part of everyday life, simply accepting how your data can be used by corporations is normal. I did laugh when I read that one of the clauses was giving up your firstborn child. It just goes to show that we’ve become conditioned to accept these terms and don’t think twice about whether a company may actually cause us harm with what we are agreeing to.
It would take up to forty minutes a day to read all of the privacy and terms of service policies that we use all the time. Businesses know this and that’s why they make them so long. This way, they can have a hidden clause or two (or maybe even ten) about what they can do with your data and personal information. I think a lot of times, this can lead to companies using our data for advertising purposes or as a way to better their company so they can grow bigger. Ultimately, it leads to one thing: money.
I also believe that the selling of personal data is in these clauses that we do not read. For example, Facebook (curse you Mark Zuckerberg for still haunting me weeks after watching the Social Network) has gotten into legal trouble over the concerns of selling personal data even though they maintain they did not. If companies had more morals, then I think their terms and conditions would be easier to read- not just in terms of length but also in terms of easiness. After all, those long legal words can be hard to comprehend. I know I should be reading the terms when I use a website or app, but I think as the years go by and technology improves, these terms of service will, unfortunately, become read less and less.