There was a time when signing a contract happened in an office, where two adults would be discussing formally the sale of an object, or subsribing to a credit or something of that kind. The point is, adult stuff, responsible stuff, big thing.
In such a situation, the one buying could perfectly take the contract home for study, and get help/advice from friends, family and/or a lawyer in order to be sure to understand everything mentioned in aforementioned contract. Especially when the contract contained several (or several dozens) pages.
But that time is gone. Now, signing a contract happens to everyone and pretty much everyday. Why ? Because of computers. Because of Facebook. Because of smartphones. Because of apps.
Today, a 6 year-old playing with his or her parents’ computer may have to agree to the terms of agreement of a contract in order to play a game on his/her facebook account (that of the parent, don’t make a Facebook account to your 6 year-old please. For humanity’s sake. And for your kid’s, too). And that seems, to me, a HUGE problem.
Why ? Because of computers. Because of Facebook. Because of smartphones.
Because now, signing a contract means your very privacy can be invaded. Terms of agreement can contain parts that will ask you (cynically) access to your computer’s camera, your phone’s microphone or gps system. Or even to the very messages you send on the damn device.
So why am I annoyed ? I haven’t taught you anything so far, I’d figure. Well I’m annoyed because signing a contract should involve some degree of reciprocity. You want to give money to a company : they give you an honest account on what’s up with the product and write you a contract that will not screw you over.
But that is not what is happening. Now your 6 year-old will give anyone the right to access everything that’s on your phone. But forget about the 6 year-old thing. Because you YOURSELF would give that access too !
Let’s be real here : when you live in a society in which you can have 6 contracts to read in a single day, will you read them ? Will ANYONE read them ?
And everybody knows that. Especially those who write the damn contracts.
I believe all healthy societies are more or less founded on the same principle : allow its inhabitants, whether they are subjects or citizens, to live protected so that they can all pursue happiness/wealth/love/whatever. A society is a frame, a restriction for you to know where you’re going. Because when there is no limitation, there is no purpose.
And our societies should make it possible for us to go around and use the technology that exists and is available to everyone and anyone safely, without surrendering vital informations about ourselves, without surrendering our privacy.
It is not what’s happening. The obvious total absence of any sort of control over those contracts, the fact that they can so trivially take such information about us from us is, to me, outrageous.
And it is plainly dishonest to say that anyone can read the contracts and refuse to sign them. Simply because of how often we are in a situation where we need to sign such contract. Simply because of of the nature of the contracts, their length and complexity, compared to the type of apps that require us to sign this kind of shit.
And that for the sake of advertisement. Fucking shame it’s come down to that.