© Stockbyte / SuperStock

© Stockbyte / SuperStock

Ranging from blogs, websites, forums, computer software and even game consoles, the Terms of Service or the End-User License Agreement haunt our lives. Yet, very little people take the time to read them through or to try and understand them.

It’s funny and ironic how people complain about not being able to do certain stuff in a website or how they’re not allowed to do certain modifications to the things they own. Problem is, most of that is explained during the TOS and the EULA.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) made a study of what people think of TOS and privacy policies. The ICO surveyed 2,141 people about their attitudes to the small print of privacy policies and found that 47% of people believed that companies deliberately made it hard to read or hard to understand, and 42% believed that the material only existed to justify the selling on of personal details.

People say they need clearer TOS, and this is a valid complaint. For example, the EULA for Microsoft’s Window Vista operating system is 14-pages long. Trust me, sitting through reading 14-pages on how Microsoft practically owns you, is not funny. Every time I’m about to agree on a privacy policy or TOS, I’ll just say to myself: “yup, I’ll sign away my life to the devil.”

Facebook had to deal with a huge debacle, where they went back and updated their TOS, but sneakingly making them retroactive. Basically saying that everything you ever done on Facebook, is owned by them. This obviously angered a lot people, forcing facebook to revert to the old TOS. Facebook had no reason to revert, since it’s stated in their TOS, that the actual TOS is subject to change at any time they desire. The only reason to revert was to not lose any people. There was even a group in facebook against the facebook TOS, irony.

TOS and EULA’s need to be shorter, concise and to the point. But, as long as users keep ignoring them, the companies will retain their obscure and gigantic “we own you” terms.

To better illustrate my point on the TOS and EULA’s, here’s a short and funny clip from LoadingReadyRun.com where they parody the Facebook TOS debacle.