There is always talk about the potential and actual consequences of new, emerging technologies. In fact, it usually forms the basis of the discussion of these new technologies: – “can you believe how much cheaper/easier/faster things are going to be?”, or “don’t you think things will be more invasive/less secure/harder to regulate?” As important as it is to theorize and attempt to predict the effect of a quickly evolving world, it is equally important to recognize the changes that have happened so slowly, they might not have been noticed at all.
Let me use, as an example, contracts. In the paper-era a contract would have been physically printed, read and signed. Sneaking unfavourable or undiscussed terms into an agreement that is read and physically signed can be hard. Now, in the electronic age, contracts have grown to such length and complexity that it is hard to imagine online terms shorter than the length of the phone book. The fear, of course, is that hidden amidst the hundreds of pages and numerous links are terms that permit misuse (or perhaps simply unexpected use) of your data – whether that is your organizations’ data, or your own personal data.
For this reason, I have put together a few quick things to remember when entering into these “click-wrap” or “click-through” agreements.
Remember that contracts and agreements should protect your interests. Don’t agree to terms that will put your data or your organization at risk. Over time vendors will get the message that control over our data is important, and we won’t simply hand it over for an app that will tell us the best place to find a free lunch.