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Terms and Conditions: Do You Know What Exactly You Are Agreeing To?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-businessman-writing-terms-conditions-gi-image14134681For every website that you visit, every app that you download and every phone call that you make, do you actually take the time to read the terms and condition agreement?

Personally, I haven’t met one single person who can admit they have read it. In fact, if we were to read the fine print – let’s say Apple’s 56-page terms and condition agreement – did you know that it would take you 180 hours to read it? Most terms and conditions are too long to read, but have you ever wondered what exactly you are agreeing to?

For instance, the UK computer game retailer, GameStation, legally owns the souls of 7,500 online shoppers. GameStation added an “immortal soul clause” to their terms and conditions agreement, which states that the company has rights to claim their soul. Although there was an option to opt-out, very few actually did. Clearly the “Immortal Soul Clause” was just a joke, but GameStation proved their point that no one actually reads the terms and conditions on a website before making online purchases.

Another example, Instagram’s changed their terms and condition agreement in December 2012 and stated that they have the right to sell users’ photographs without being notified or compensated. This means that Instagram can use your photos for commercial use without notifying and paying you. In addition, there is no way to opt-out, making Instagram “the world’s largest stock photo agency.” How would you feel that companies are making money out of your photos without your consent?

I admit, I’m one of those who blindly agrees to the reading the terms and conditions. But after watching the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply over the weekend, I learned to be more cautious with my online activities and to think before clicking “I accept”.  Director Cullen Hoback brings a good point when he says, “Terms and conditions are designed not to be read. They’re designed to be invisible, and they’re designed to be unapproachable.” So why can’t companies make it simple for people to read?

In this eye-opening and very informative documentary, Hoback exposes the truth behind the government, big tech companies. our personal information and how it is used, misused and abused. The documentary also discusses the problems of corporate-government surveillance in which innocent citizens are targeted as potential threats to the country. For example, a UK tourist was arrested and thrown into jail over a tweet and the SWAT team came knock on a comedian’s front door after quoting Fight Club on Facebook. There is only so much that we can do to protect our online privacy. But can’t there be another way where the government can protect our country without invading our privacy?

Terms and Conditions May Apply is now showing a few selected theatres. I highly recommend it! Click here to check out the list of showings.

Priscilla Lopez on

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