Wednesday, October 15, 2014

EULAs and Liars

Okay, there are many problems with EULAs.  These are the End User License Agreements that we all click through routinely, every time we install an app or software upgrade.  I find them annoying.  They often show you four lines of text at a time, requiring about 200 clicks and 10 minutes to get through them.  With them I promise not to break the law, reverse engineer, or share government secrets.  I agree to third party arbitration and accept the software as is, with no guarantee that it will do anything.  I agree that if I lose data or business, it's not their fault and I have no recourse.  Fine.

At least, that's what I think those agreements say.  I barely read them anymore, especially if they come from well known companies like Apple or Microsoft.  I figure that if there were any really abusive parts to the agreement, people would light up the internet with protests.

So, here's my main problem with EULAs.  They make liars out of us.  "I have read and agree to the terms of this agreement."  *Click accept.*  No, I actually haven't read your litany of legalese.  I don't care what you are afraid I might do with it.  I know that you don't really expect me to read it anyway.  I know that you are covering your legal butts.  I just want to use the software.

So, I lie when I click.  Maybe you do too.

This seems to cheapen my word.  I feel like I am compromising every time I click "accept."  But what is the alternative?  Spend valuable time plowing through worthless jargon?  Delaying my work with nothing to show for it?

So I am caught.  I can waste time and know that I really do agree with the terms; or I can violate my conscience and get on with my work.

Maybe I am over reacting, but I think these agreements desensitize us to truth.  They diminish the value of our words.  They make us willing to accept anything.  They keep us from careful examination of details.  They make us more like mindless sheep, following the flock.  Who knows where that may eventually lead?

And that bothers me.