User Agreements: What You Don’t Read But Agree To May Hurt You

For years it's been a running joke that none of us ever read user agreements for digital stuff, especially apps on mobile devices. Occasionally, it’s not a joke when we find out that we’ve agreed to something that’s caused our information to be used or shared in ways we don’t like and that could compromise our security. Now we have reliable information about what’s really going on and here’s the deal. It’s not entirely true that none of us read user agreements before opting in, but, it’s close. According to a study by Deloitte, 91% of adults don’t read user agreements and/or terms and conditions and 97% of adults under 35 don’t read them at all.

But wait, it’s much worse. That’s what people said, as is often the case not everyone was being completely honest. How bad is it? In a test of user agreements, when people weren’t aware of what they were being tested for, 99% of adults agreed to turn over their first-born child to a bogus company and have their personal information shared with the NSA.

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that’s not what 99% of people really were agreeable to but it most certainly was what they agreed to. It’s a good thing this was a test and nothing remotely serious. But what is serious is the takeaway. So few of us pay any attention to terms were legally enter into as a condition of accessing and using services. That's a real problem that may only become worse if more people attempt to take advantage of this knowledge. 

As for you, reading legalese isn’t what even most attorneys want to be doing. But it is important to take the time to do it. And if you don’t get it or don’t agree with the terms don’t do it. I call it the grocery store rule. If I can’t pronounce an ingredient, I don’t buy the product. 

Photo by: Getty Images



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