Terms and Conditions May Apply | Movie

A popular documentary titled Terms and Conditions May Apply dramatizes a worthy question:  Do the legal terms of service and privacy policies imposed by online services like Facebook rob individuals of their privacy?

High Recommendation for the Movie

I recommend you see the TACMA film.  It shows how interesting and relevant the law of contracts is today.  Technology like the web is revolutionizing contract law!

TACMA dwells on the
contract of adhesion
Online Civil Rights
pre-written terms that users are expected to click or assent to when they use a service like Google.  TACMA correctly questions whether these take-it-or-leave-it terms are always in the best interest of individual users.

Contract Law - A Two-Way Street

But wait.  Online terms and conditions involve more than one party (big bad corporation) taking from another party (helpless individual).  Terms and conditions are governed by contract law.

Contract law is a two-way street.  Contract law is about two people voluntarily negotiating, communicating and agreeing to rules.

TACMA accurately suggests most people don’t have time to study and negotiate all the terms presented by the online service providers they wish to use.

However, all is not lost.  Contract law is powerful . . . even for individuals who are not lawyers.

Privacy of Medical Records

Contract law enables enlightened individuals to get more of what they want.   If an individual wants privacy, contract law supports him getting it.

For instance, let’s say a patient uses an online service to compile her medical record.  She could post terms and conditions inside her record that protect her privacy.  Please read example privacy terms and conditions for an electronic medical record.

Are We Hopeless?

What do you think?  Are individuals helpless under law?

By: Benjamin Wright

Related: How an online service can use terms of service to obtain from its users informed consent for the use of their data.