RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The internet: it’s one of the great conveniences of our age but the internet can also be quite a sneaky data collector.
It can sometimes violate our privacy without us realizing it because we’ve agreed to it.
We give businesses a lot of latitude about what they can do when we click “accept” on terms and conditions.
And most everybody clicks “accept” without even bothering to read the terms of service.
Ester Thole is one of the many who never reads terms the conditions.
“I usually hit right on through – like most of us,” she says.
Ditto for Andy Place.
“I click on through,” he says.
Why doesn’t he read the agreements? “I don’t have time.”
Indeed, many of those agreements are quite lengthy.
CBS North Carolina printed out several from popular online services.
The terms of service agreement for Snapchat was 18 pages long.
For Instagram? Fourteen pages.
And for Apple’s website? The document took up seven pages.
We gave Chris Muntaz choice to pick any of the three agreements to read.
He first chose Snapchat and couldn’t believe its length.
“That’s crazy,” he said.
As he plowed through the document he was amazed at its language.
“There’s a lot of legal stuff in here. A lot of rights,” he said.
He then switched to the Instagram document.
After looking through several of its 14 pages he became fatigued.
“I’m not about to read all this today,” he said.
Yet, Muntaz and many other people say “yes, yes, yes” every day to all sorts of terms and conditions they’ve never read.
“This is another reminder of one of the most publicly told lies in America, that I read and agree to your terms of agreement,” said Dr. Shannon McMurtrey, cyber security expert at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.
When you accept terms in an agreement, you can allow apps and services to access your microphone, camera, location, data and many more things.
Experts estimate apps, websites and online services have now amassed more data than the NSA, and it’s all legal because you gave your permission.
“When you download a free application on your phone and give up all these permissions then you are the product. Your data is the product. I don’t know that people fully understand that still today,” says McMurtrey.
you should delete some of those apps and services you don’t use anymore to cut down on that loss of your personal data you’ve allowed companies to take.
“They are still in the background, that app, still watching you type on your keyboard, listening to your microphone, or using a camera from time to time,” says McMurtrey.
You can’t do anything about agreements you’ve already accepted, but, in the future, before you say “yes” to the terms and conditions try and read what you’re signing to figure out what you are giving up.
If you want some tips on how to read terms of service agreements, you can click this link to help you navigate through some of the more common language used in those documents.