22 April 2018

Sing It, Brother

I wholeheartedly agree that the world of deceptive user agreements used to arbitrarily punish customers 6 pounds of sh%$ in a 5 pound bag:
Mark Zuckerberg says it doesn't matter how creepy and terrible his company is, because you agreed to let him comprehensively f%$# you over from asshole to appetite by clicking "I agree" to a tens of thousands of words' worth of "agreements" spread out across multiple webpages; when questioned about this in Congress, Zuck grudgingly admitted that "I don’t think the average person likely reads that whole document." But as far as Zuck is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you've read it, whether you understand it, whether it can be understood -- you still "agreed."

Facebook is far from the worst offender: Paypal has been cutting off the accounts of users who signed up before they were 18, which violated their 50,000+ word ToS (spread across 21 web-pages!); it doesn't matter if those users are now well over the age of consent, more than a decade later, their failure to read all those terms is a hanging offense.

The self-replicating plague of bullsh%$ "agreements" is finally getting a reckoning, as users wake up to the fact that companies were actually serious when they said that they expected hold us to these absurd legal documents. What's more, the looming spectre of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, with its mandate for plain language agreements that users have to understand, is calling into question whether it's possible to even have a business that can only exist if users agree to terms that put the US tax-code to shame.

That is to say, businesses are being told that they are obliged to obtain detailed, informed consent to every single term in their contracts before they can start interacting with their users. The businesses say that undertaking such a process could take hours and that no one would ever use their services if a precondition for their usage is to actually understand what they're giving away.

To which the EU answers: exactly.
The EU is doing the right thing here.  (I cannot believe that I just said that)

Seriously, the ecology of the commercial internet resembles nothing so much as a petty bunco operation.


Post a Comment