The terms and conditions (T&C’s) for the services you use may not be a priority to you, but perhaps they should be. The importance of thoroughly reading T&C’s before agreeing to them is imperative. While it is something that seems simple enough to do, there are still many people who do a ‘quick skim’ of the T&C’s and then don’t understand the problems and disasters that arise from this. Many of us aren’t inclined to read the terms and conditions – particularly when something we want is dangled in front of our nose.
When you are so close to achieving a business goal it is easy to hurry the process and sign without caution. Simply hitting the agree button on a website or signing your name to a dozen pages of T&C’s without actually reading the fine print because all that was focussed on was the promise of whatever it was you were being offered can prove dangerous.
What will you agree to in order to use basic software? Users are presumed to ’accept‘ terms if they continue to use the various software programs after a stipulated date. If you do not agree, you are choosing to discontinue using the products and services and closing your account before these terms become effective.
“The biggest lie on the internet is ‘I have read and agree to the terms and conditions’,” says Mikko Hyppönen of F-Secure Corporation.
F-Secure once set up a free Wi-fi hotspot in the heart of London to prove to the general public the importance of reading these T&C’s. Hidden in the T&C’s of the free network was a ’Herod clause‘ that stated that in exchange for the use of Wi-fi, ‘the recipient agreed to assign their first-born child to us for the duration of eternity’. People simply just signed up willy-nilly and what a scary thought this is. When you fail to read the T&C’s, you are setting yourself up for failure. You don’t know what you have committed yourself to in the agreement that you just signed.
Providers clearly stipulate their actions in End-User Licensing Agreements (EULA). They are blatant in stating how they will use/manipulate your data, what information they collect, and more. The agreement you accepted for cloud storage could be where you give provider permission to use your contents and designs in ways you did not imagine when you clicked in the box and agreed to the T&C’s.
EULA’s usually advise you that the provider may:
- Record your data (personal, financial, etc)
- Monitor and track your internet use
- Store your preferences
- Sell your data and
- Allow your contact details to be used for other vendors to advertise their products
By not reading the T&C’s, you have literally signed away your rights. Therefore, the data that we choose to share is infinitely valuable and must be tightly secured. As the users of services, we want to assume that we are ‘protected’, that our content is ‘secure’ and that we enjoy what to us seems to be reasonable privacy. The best way to protect your business from the worst-case scenarios is to read your T&C’s.