Online terms of services are“absurd”

Is your privacy protected when using YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram or iTunes?

You can find out by reading their terms and conditions, which are supposed to set out everything in detail.

But practically no one can read them because they are too complicated and lengthy.

The Norwegian (挪威) Consumer Council said in Europe called these terms and conditions “bordering on the absurd”.

In many cases, the terms are too long, forcing users to waive their fundamental right to privacy.

It discovered the terms of 33 popular apps have more than 900 pages, or over 250,000 words in Norwegian and English that takes 31 hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds to read.

Apple’s iTunes terms and conditions took 2.5 hours to read.

The council wrote on its website: “Their scope, length and complexity mean it is virtually impossible to make good and informed decisions.”

The council called for concise and understandable terms and industry standards setting out how terms, conditions and privacy statements should be presented.

But local IT sector legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光) said simplifying the terms and conditions was very difficult.

“There could be many areas that will no longer be under protection if the terms are simplified. Since the terms are strictly written in legal terms, and companies try to include all conditions into the terms,” he said.

(This article is published on Junior Standard on 2 June 2016)

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