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Raising the "Creep Factor" in License Agreements

Published: 2015-02-08
Last Updated: 2015-02-08 16:53:37 UTC
by Rob VandenBrink (Version: 1)
8 comment(s)

When I started in this biz back in the 80's, I was brought up short when I read my first EULA (End User License Agreement).  Back then, software was basically wrapped in the EULA (yes, like a Christmas present), and nobody read them then either.  Imagine my surprise at the time that I hadn't actually purchased the software, but was granted the license to use the software, and ownership remained with the vendor (Microsoft, Lotus, UCSD and so on).

Well, things haven't changed much since then, and the concept of ownership has been steadily creeping further and further into information "territory" that we don't expect.  Google, Facebook and pretty much any other free service out there sells any information you post, as well as any other metadata that they can scrape from photos, session information and so on.  The common proverb in those situations is "if the service is free, then YOU are the product".  Try reading the Google, Facebook or Twitter terms of service if you have an hour to spare and think your blood pressure is a bit low that day

The frontier of EULA's, and the market where you seem to be giving up the most private information you don't expect however seems to be in home appliances - in this case Smart Televisions.  Samsung recently posted their EULA for their SmartTV here:

They're collecting the shows you watch, internet sites visited, IP addresses you browse from, cookies, "likes", search terms (really?) and all kinds of other easy to collect and apparently easy to apologize for (in advance) information.  With this information, so far I'm pretty sure I'm not hooking up my TV to my home wireless or ethernet, but I'm not surprised - pretty much every Smart TV vendor collects this same info.

But the really interesting passage, where the "creep factor" is really off the charts for me is:
"Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition."

No word of course who the "third partys" are, and what their privacy policies might be.

Really and truly a spy in your living room.  I guess it's legal if it's in a EULA or you work for a TLA?  And it's morally OK as long as you "apologize in advance?"


Rob VandenBrink

Keywords: EULA Smart TV SmartTV
8 comment(s)
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