Question about terms and conditions


Hello, I’ve been a long time reader of the forums but a first time poster.

I have a slightly scrupulous question, do you read the terms and conditions when on websites? Or do you skip over them? Wouldn’t this be a form of lying or something?

Before anyone asks, I have OCD and I guess I’ve been struggling with it for a while, but I occasionally get hung up on questions like this.


I think this is your OCD talking. The law doesn’t even expect people to read all the fine print.


The large majority of people skip over them. As BoomBoom said, the law doesn’t even expect people to read all the fine print. There are many legal cases where the judge holds it against a company that it buried something important in the fine print (sometimes calling on companies to put important stuff in large font and bolded), based on the assumption that very few consumers read terms and conditions documents.

On a moral level, it is of no concern if you don’t read them. On a legal level, I’d suggest it for very important things (like an employment contract), but not for things as simple as website usage.

As evidence that even companies don’t expect you to read them, some companies use it as an opportunity to push unwanted products called foistware onto your PC (such as Java bundling garbage browser toolbars) by sneaking in an “I agree to install [application x]” part with the terms and conditions because they know we hit ‘Yes’ without reading the fine print. (For more on that, see A close look at how Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates).


No, it’s just asking if you agree, but you don’t have to read all that.


Communication is built in part on expectations, so when there is such an overwhelming expectation that a person who “has read and understood and agrees to” x fine print is not reading it at all, the statement actually becomes in meaning “do you accept this agreement” or something similar.

Also, there is no such thing as lying to a machine.


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