It's Scary How Much You Give Up When You Sign A 'User Agreement'

iTunes user agreement

We deal with user agreements all the time. Whether it’s updating iTunes or downloading a new piece of software onto your laptop, companies give a long piece of legal gibberish that might be glanced at for a second or two before clicking “Accept.”

But what do those pages of legal jargon actually say?

Are you giving away any real rights when you accept the terms and conditions given to you when you use services like Google and Facebook?

That’s the focus of this year’s award-winning documentary, “Terms and Conditions May Apply.”

The movie takes an in-depth look at what information companies and governments are able to gather about users thanks to these agreements.

Most people don't read the many user agreements they accept all the time. There's just not enough time.

That's why nearly 7,500 gamers didn't notice that they sold their soul when they bought games online from UK video gamer retailer GameStation.

On a more serious note, let's look at Google's privacy policies (which you agree to just by using the site)

Its original privacy policy back in 2000 stated that they tracked computers, not people.

But people use Google for more than search. Millions use it for storing photos, sending and receiving email, and as a social network. Since 2012 they've organised all of that data into massive files about individual users.

It turns out that this information contains a whole lot about you. In 2006, AOL released a portion of its user data organised in a similar fashion so that people could research it.

To this cute old lady.

People also noticed that one user regularly typed in some pretty dark search terms.

A witch hunt began. The user in question was accused of planning to murder his wife.

It turns out that the user in question was this guy.

There was a minor increase in 2006...

In 2007 Facebook made even more of your stuff public by default ...

In 2009 it started accelerating...

Making two changes in the same year...

By 2010, almost everything a user put on Facebook was public by default.

A law student in Amsterdam was able to get a copy of all of the data Facebook had on him. After three years of use, it came out to over 1200 pages of information.

Facebook's policies are non-private that The Onion created a satirical video in which the CIA called Facebook its most effective program.

As if things weren't bad enough, it's estimated that these agreements cost users a collective $250 billion per year.

That includes indirect losses, like Instagram's debacle where they tried to make it so that they could sell your photos without giving you a cut...

And direct losses, like TomTom selling user data to Dutch police, who then used it to set up speed traps for drivers.

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