For 32 hours, a group live streamed the ‘terms and conditions’ of apps like iTunes

norway terms conditions
Forbrukerrådet
How many times have you accepted an app’s terms of use without so much as reading the first line? Every time, if you’re like most people.

Norway’s Consumer Council believes we don’t bother with them because of their “absurd … scope, length, and complexity,” an issue it decided to highlight this week by reading aloud the user agreements of 33 popular mobile apps during a special event streamed live online.

Why 33? Because on average that’s how many a Norwegian smartphone owner has on their device, apparently.

The chosen apps included Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, Skype, Instagram, and Angry Birds. With the combined agreements totaling around a quarter of a million words, the organizers wisely decided not to leave the reading marathon to one person, choosing instead to get lots of people involved. In the end, more than 100 participants each took turns, with the read-a-thon lasting a total of 31 hours and 49 minutes.

Finn Myrstad, digital policy director at the Norwegian Consumer Council, said the current state of terms and conditions for digital services is now borderline ridiculous, adding, “Their scope, length, and complexity mean it is virtually impossible to make good and informed decisions.”

Speaking to BBC Radio, Myrstad said that in some cases when you accept the terms, you could be waiving “fundamental consumer rights and privacy rights,” adding that sometimes there’s even a clause that says the app maker has the right to change the conditions at any time and without notice to the user, making a mockery of the entire system.

He said the “take it or leave it” model is bad for consumers, and suggested there should be check boxes allowing you to agree or disagree with certain conditions while still getting access to the app.

Asked for an example of a ludicrous condition in a user agreement, Myrstad singled out iTunes. Nestled among its 21,000-word terms-and-conditions document is the promise not to use Apple’s music app to produce a weapon of mass destruction. Really, it’s there:

You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons.

While it’s not clear how one might go about using iTunes to create a nuclear bomb, it seems Apple just wants you to confirm that even if you can, you won’t. So don’t get any ideas.

Myrstad and his team are calling on companies to shorten and simplify their user agreements and adopt a common standard in order to “build trust” between companies and consumers. We’re not holding our breath.

Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

Building a 4K home theater? Grab a discounted Denon A/V receiver from Amazon

Denon makes some of the best 4K A/V receivers on the market, and a handful of Denon’s latest models are on sale on Amazon now. If you’ve been thinking about building a home theater and are looking for a 4K receiver that doesn’t cost…
Computing

Changing a PDF into an EPUB file is easier than you might think

If you like to read on a tablet or ebook reader, you'll find that ePUB files offer a number of advantages over PDFs. With this guide, we'll show you how to convert a PDF to EPUB in a few quick steps.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Mobile

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Mobile

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.