Social networks have come under fire for tough-to-chew terms and conditions after a new report reveals concerns over data usage.
The Commons Science and Technology Select Committee says the agreements users have to sign up for when joining social networks are unnecessarily long and complex.
The committee went as far as describing the process as being like ‘engaging with Shakespeare.’
‘No reasonable person’ could be expected to understand the terms, continued the report in which the committee requested new guidelines for websites and apps.
New legislation was also mentioned as a possible solution for dealing with companies that fail to comply with proposed terms.
The MPs also warned that apps had relatively unbridled access to smartphone features, with Facebook Messenger being capable of taking photos and videos at any time, unbeknownst to users.
In reality, the Messenger app requests user consent beforehand, and requires the agreements to offer most of its services.
Access to the camera, for instance, is necessary for users to send photos to each other – a relatively benign inclusion that’s easy to demonise.
Andrew Miller, MP and chairman of the committee, said: “Let’s face it, most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand.”
“Socially responsible companies wouldn’t want to bamboozle their users, of course, so we are sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to the new guidelines on clear communication and informed consent that we are asking the Government to draw up.”
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