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Signing contracts without reading them first

Fri Dec 21, 2012

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Most people would never sign a contract without reading it first. At least that’s what they think. But they do not realize this happens millions of times every day.

I think we got used to it when installing computer programs. We just clicked next, next, next, whatever. But now, with online services, things are different. We still click next without reading, but we are now signing contracts that affect the future of our creations and our lives. Our blog posts, our private e-mails, our family photos, drawings, songs, etc.

The following text comes from a comment at HN: “The terms of the license you grant Instagram is about as broad as it gets, and reaches substantially further than just about any reputable photo sharing service out there. For example, Flickr and 500px’s TOS gives them license only as long as you hold the account and the image hasn’t been deleted. Deleting your account or the photos themselves is revocation of their usage rights. Instagram is bound by no such rules.”. Which seems to imply that if you delete your Instagram photos or your account, the company still has permission to use your photos. Did you know that? And this is with the old TOS, not with the new one that generated so many protests. How does this fit Europan laws, I wonder, where we have the right to ask companies to delete our data.

The TOS (Terms of Service) we sign are often hard to understand. But we can easily use a search engine and find what other people are saying about that contract before signing it. For example, you can search for “TOS Facebook” and find people who study carefully each sentence and how they affect you. 

I think we really should start paying more attention to this. We should stop and consider carefully if we really want to blindly follow others and create an account with that shiny new app.

tos-dr.info is a promising project that analyzes the terms of service in different sites. It will probably help you decide which companies do you trust in the online world.

(original CC photo by Jana Mills, edited with Gimp)

Categories: text Tags: privacy tos Places: unimportant

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