We all do it. Download an app and click ‘accept’ after scrolling down past a bunch of legal jargon. Everyone has done this at least once. Most of us have done it a few times. But not knowing what you’re agreeing to is dangerous.
Recently, it was discovered that the popular app Unroll.me has been selling user data. The company admitted to this accusation with the stance that users should have read through the Terms of Service agreement (that text we were just talking about).
But who is to blame here? Can you protect yourself or take any action? Let’s break it down.
The Unroll.me Case
In 2014, Unroll.me was acquired by Slice (the popular shopping app). During that acquisition, the Unroll.me Terms of Service (TOS) changed. Slice wanted to comb through user data in order to provide that data to driving app Uber (Uber, in turn, wanted to use that data to see how competitors, namely Lyft, were doing).
In the process of all of this, Unroll.me started to collect said data and use it or sell it. This is how the company generates some of its revenue. Unroll.me did send out a new TOS to users, but most users simply scrolled through it and accepted the changes. In short, Unroll.me began to sell user data to the very companies users were attempting to unsubscribe from.
The Importance of Print
Reading through a TOS takes time. Heck, reading through that new work contract takes time. Anything involving paperwork takes time. But there’s reason paperwork (digital or otherwise) exists. It has to. Companies have to provide you with the detail of any deal you agree to. It’s your right to know these things.
Exercise your right by reading through terms. If you don’t understand terms, ask. Even companies like Unroll.me have to connect you with someone that can explain terms to you. So is it your fault if you use Unroll.me and didn’t know the company was selling your data? Maybe. Is it fair? Maybe not.
Companies should be required to make sure - triple sure - that users see these types of changes. Unfortunately, the only thing they have to do is send out a TOS to users. That’s as far as they need to extend. Should this be changed? Possibly. In the meantime, read the fine print. It’s annoying, I know. But it’s there to protect you.