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You're not alone, no one reads terms of service agreements

You're not alone, no one reads terms of service agreements

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  • A new Deloitte survey found that over 90% of consumers accept legal terms and conditions without reading them. 
  • When faced with no choice, users are willing to accept potential consequences in exchange for access. 


If you've ever tapped "I agree" to a legal terms and conditions agreement after hardly giving it a glance you're not alone. 

A Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S found that 91% of people consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. For younger people, ages 18-34 the rate is even higher with 97% agreeing to conditions before reading. 

The language is too complex and long-winded for most, and apparently, consumers are willingly to accept that the worst most companies will do is sell their name and email to a third party that wants to advertise to them. 

Jonathan Obar and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch at the University of Connecticut conducted a study to get an empirical idea of how far consumers could be conned into going. They created a fake social networking site called Name Drop, and wrote up a terms and services agreement for users to agree to before signing up. In the agreement they included the disclosure that users give up their first born child as payment, and that anything users shared would be passed along to the NSA. A whopping 98% of participants agreed.

This is an extreme example that existed only in an academic experiment. The real agreements are usually there to protect the company from legal trouble. Still, the experiment highlights how easily consumers are willing to waive their rights.

Of course, consumers don't have much of a choice. If they don't agree, they don't get access to the wireless network, new app or whatever it is they want to use — and there's nothing they can about it. 

Deloitte consumer privacy dataDeloitte

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