Terms and Conditions

terms_and_conditions_may_apply_xlgIn the era of ubiquitous smartphones, most of us acknowledge that our data is being tracked. A recent survey by Consumer Action reveals that  81% of individuals know that they can be specifically  tied to and tracked by a device. The majority of mobile phone users know that their data is being collected but few users know how or if this data is being used. In fact, the survey reveal that half of all consumers believe it is illegal to to be tracked online without their permission.

This belief is misguided as there is no legislation in Canada or the United States which requires user permission for online tracking. The California Online Privacy Protection Act, is making great strides. The Act requires “any operator of a commercial website or online service that collects consumers’ personal information through the Internet to post a privacy policy“. Many argue that this act doesn’t go far enough, if the commercial website posts a privacy policy or a “terms and conditions” it is perfectly legal to collect user data.

What are these terms and conditions and how do they affect what we do online? They are the guidelines of use for the site. They lay out what you are allowed to do as a consumer and what the creator of the site can do with your data in return. Often users don’t even see the terms and conditions as they are applied when you use the site. Even if the terms and conditions do pop up on the users screen they are very rarely read.

These terms and conditions imply that the user agrees with what the site will do with your personal information, while in fact the vast majority of users don’t even know what they agreed to. If this shocks you, you are not alone.  Director Cullen Hoback writes in The Guardian; “Everything in our digital lives now comes with this legally binding contract, a contract designed to take away fundamental rights. And with 30 or more pages of undecipherable legalese at many sites, how is anyone supposed to understand the nature of the trade for digital services?”  

Hoback decided to voice his concerns about the online contracts by directing the documentary “Terms and Conditions”.  The  documentary goes far beyond Facebook to uncover the variety of  ways we are being tracked in our everyday lives.


If you are interested in learning more about the contracts that control our personal data watch the trailer below and then come to our free screening of “Terms and Conditions”.


Terms and Conditions

Lillooet Room, 3rd Floor IKBLC

Leave a Reply