When you’re working online you often get asked to confirm that you’ve read the terms and conditions before you can proceed. How many of us just tick the box without reading the T&Cs at all?
Let’s be honest, faced with a closely typed screen of small print most of us simply don’t want to take the time to read it all – but beware, you really do need what you’re agreeing to.
An experiment was carried out by the Cyber Security Research Institute and they set up a WiFi hotspot in London that gave access to users – as long as they ticked the T&Cs box. Busy users happily ticked the box to get access.
What the unwitting users did not realise that the T&Cs they’d agreed to included a ‘Herod clause’ that meant they had agreed to hand over their first born child for the duration of eternity!
Fortunately, the Institute have no intention of enforcing the T&Cs – it was an experiment and the page was disabled after six people had blindly agreed to the small print.
The Finnish company who sponsored the research commented “We will be returning the children to their parents. While terms and conditions are legally binding, it is contrary to public policy to sell children in return for free services.”
Most terms and conditions don’t include anything quite so extreme, but they do include clauses that you may find leave you exposed. It’s not good practice to just agree without at least taking a closer look. Think carefully – do I really need to access this service or product NOW or should I protect myself by reading the T&Cs?
Sitting on the other side of the fence, if you have terms and conditions for your own products and services, make sure that they are in plain English and are laid out in a way that makes them easier to read.