July 14, 2017

End user agreement survival guide

Privacy Tips

Can I interest you in a nice, long, legally binding document? It’ll only take a few hours and maybe a law degree. No? You’re not alone.

Despite many years of experience, humorous stories (ha ha, you signed away your baby) and dire warnings, no one reads EULAs — that’s end-user license agreements, those things you have to sign electronically before installing software, signing up for online services, or connecting to a free Wi-Fi hotspot. They are bills of sale that outline what you pay and what you get in return.

I can’t blame people for not scanning EULAs carefully. They’re boring and usually very long. A few years ago, Time magazine estimated thoroughly reading those pesky agreements would take about 76 work days per year. But at the same time, we can’t ignore the fact that EULAs are legally binding. If you’re not sure what they say, maybe you shouldn’t sign them.

A few suggestions:

  • If the agreement is short, at least skim it;
  • Use a EULA analyzing tool such as EULAlyzer;
  • Don’t use the service if you don’t have to.

Ultimately, we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but many of us live in hope. Still, pay we must — so let’s at least know the price.