All software comes with terms and conditions that you are supposed to read, understand, and then acknowledge that you agree. How many times have you clicked to “Accept” one, when you really didn’t read it?
If you’re like most people the answer is “I never read them.” I’m not going to chastise anyone since I don’t read them either. It’s a shame, because they are there to protect us and to advise what might be done with any information that is collected. And yet, who has the time and patience to read through all of that legalese?
Norway’s Consumer Council sponsored an interesting study. The study group decided to publicly read aloud the terms of 33 smartphone apps in a live-streamed event hosted on their website. On average, Norwegians have 33 apps installed. But reading the terms of all of them took the activists more than 31 hours.
“The average consumer could easily find themselves having to read more than 250,000 words of app terms and conditions,” the council explained on its website. “For most people this is an impossible task, and consumers are effectively giving mobile apps free rein to do almost whatever they want.”
“The current state of terms and conditions for digital services is bordering on the absurd. Their scope, length and complexity mean it is virtually impossible to make good and informed decisions,” the council’s digital policy director, Finn Myrstad, was quoted as saying.
Following the 30+ hour live stream, the Norwegian consumer rights body urged app service providers to “cut back on the obvious” and to “write so that people understand.”