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Think Before You Click and Accept Those Online T&Cs

June 04, 2020
Think Before You Click

Data gathering is a fact of life.

According to a recent report, 81% of Americans believe the risks they face from companies collecting their information outweigh the benefits and 79% are concerned about how this data is being used. What may be less widely accepted, however, is that many people are inadvertently contributing to this problem.

Organizations are required to list how they will be collecting, storing and analyzing your data in their Terms and Conditions (T&Cs). But these documents tend to be extremely lengthy—one estimate suggests that reading an average American’s digital contracts would take nearly 250 hours a year.

Let’s be honest, it’s unrealistic that you go through every T&C agreement with a fine-toothed comb. In the rush to exit the T&C screen and just get on with things, we’ve all sped through these agreements! But, if you want to control your digital data as much as possible, limit how organizations are profiting from your information, and keep your family safe from cybercriminals, it’s critical that you think before you click. If you are a LegalShield member, you should contact your Provider Law Firm when you have a legal question.


Is it worth it?

One of the most important considerations when providing digital consent is whether the app, service, or product is really essential. For example, it might seem appealing to agree to the Facebook quiz on your spirit animal in the name of fun, but these are typically created by a third-party developer with the sole purpose of linking to your account to profit from your information.

In addition to evaluating any new service with this in mind, it’s important to also go into existing apps, services, and accounts to check and adjust data settings. A Princeton study found that 76% of websites have a Google tracking device and 24% have Facebook trackers, and new apps, products, and services typically default to granting access to data sharing. Reviewing these both when you begin utilizing them and on an ongoing basis is a critical step in protecting your digital privacy.

Scan for privacy red flags.

As mentioned above, it’s impossible to read every T&C agreement thoroughly from start to finish. Instead, when reviewing these documents, look for details on key questions such as:

  • What information is being collected?

  • How will it be used?

  • What parties will have access to my information? How will this change if the company folds or is acquired?

  • What control do I have over my data?

  • Do I have any rights protecting against the misuse of my information?


     

It’s also a good idea to search these documents specifically for keywords like “data,” “store,” “party,” “collect” and “control,” as these are typically in the sections outlining how the company or app plans to utilize your information. Checking app store reviews for any issues can also help you determine whether the company will be responsible in its use of your personal data.

We’ve all clicked the “I Agree” box without giving it a second thought, whether in the name of convenience, urgency, curiosity, or just simple fun. However, it’s important that you follow the guidelines outlined above and review data sharing policies and settings before consenting.

Keep Your Personal Information Private

IDShield can help you navigate this environment and audit your existing digital footprint to eliminate any unnecessary or overly invasive data sharing settings and help protect you and your family from those who would profit off of this information.

IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield members through membership-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.  If you are a LegalShield member, you should contact your Provider Law Firm.


IDShield Can Help Ensure that Your Private Life Remains Private