Sign the terms and conditions or get lost

An individual’s personal data is a valuable asset, just like their money. However, whilst we are acutely aware of the need to not just protect but also understand and control any movements of our money, people generally don’t have any concept of what’s happening to their data on a routine basis.

This inevitably breeds a mistrust between data controllers and the data subjects. Everyone, from social media-savvy pre-teens to technology-suspicious older people, have unwittingly signed up to terms and conditions which allow their personal data to be shared widely, with each contract offering its own specific set of bewildering permission details.

One piece of research suggests it would take an average person 76 days each year to read all the data contracts they were signed up to. This means the usual calls for T&Cs to be made easier to understand (and less ‘impenetrable’ as the Children’s Commissioner recently argued) isn’t enough by itself.

It seems that we’ve reached a point where the public, organisations and government need to engage in a renewed dialogue on the use of personal data. And that’s exactly what it needs to be; a dialogue between institutions and the public, instead of the ultimatum we are currently presented with of ‘either sign this T&Cs form or get lost’.

Posted by Martin Leonard Cooper0 on 9th Feb 2017
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Strongly Agree : 33 %
Agree : 67 %
Disagree : 0 %
Strongly Disagree : 0 %

Comments (3)

David Vaughan Bowen

04 August 2018

This is probably one of the easiest ways the BCS could contribute to the ethics of IT and to the good of society. If we created a mechanism for reading, reviewing and approving (or critically commenting or rejecting with reasons) Ts and Cs, we could really help people (including our own members).

English Law and US Law are both based on Common Law, extended by the US Constitution, state and federal laws and court rulings, and by UK Acts of Parliament and court rulings. Much EU law is based on Napoleonic Codes. Yes, the Ts and Cs need to reflect this, but a key part of the review is where jurisdiction resides. If I sign Ts and Cs that give me rights in a court in a distant land and foreign language, they are not giving me much recourse, are they?

David Michael Townsend

09 April 2017

English Law, referred to as Common Law is so called be because it is 'commonly accepted'. It isn't necessarily based on Roman or Greek Laws. Many applications demand compliance with USA laws (I guess, based on Greek Laws??) How do the different interpretations resolve, if at all?

Brian Andrew Runciman

14 February 2017

It seems like every time I use my banking app they have updated t and c's. of course I read them assiduously. (Irony)