We have all done it: you see the threat of “T’s and C’s” looming on the page before you and lunge in desperation to click agree, lest you are exposed to the legal jargon standing between you and signing up for the latest fad. After all, who really has the time in their busy modern life to read something that requires any more thought than a Buzzfeed article? Heaven forbid the site makes you mindlessly scroll all the way to the bottom of the policy before you can move on, wasting valuable seconds of your time. The horror!
Feverish speed scrolling aside, on an almost daily basis we sign over our personal data without paying the briefest attention to where this data is going, and how it can be used against us. We permit corporations to invade our online world; to use and abuse all the information we willingly hand over after being lured in by the promise of a fun, free service to toy around with.
Apps such as Facebook can have permission to activate your microphone and camera at any time without alerting you that they are doing so, track your browser search history, and record your location when using the app. Social media sites take ownership of what you post and continue to store these posts in archives even after you delete them. Not to mention the immoral psychological experiments on users’ emotions that were, in all legality, consented to purely by your agreement to the company’s terms and conditions.
We are being monitored every day of our lives, and while some companies do attempt to increase transparency by making their terms of service and privacy policies more visible, we continue to ignore them, assuming that it is irrelevant.
When you agree to a company’s policies you are making a conscious decision to trade your information for a service; you are entering a transaction and thus it should be treated as such. If someone is providing a service for free, it is not the service they are selling, but the user.
It’s time to start taking our online security seriously. Know what you are signing up for, and decide if it is worth the price – your privacy.