We have all been faced with the tedious task of reviewing the Terms of Service (TOS) for the various services and applications we use. In fact, checking the box « I have read and agree to the terms” becomes a largely formal, automatic and blind gesture. Users accept pages of legal jargon, without understanding (or being able to understand) the contractual obligations to which they commit themselves, nor being able to negotiate them (thus experiencing a « take it or leave it » situation). Most of us do not read through these legal frameworks, and prefer to accept them with latent suspicion, hasty indifference or naive trust. This state of affairs is now well known (see for example the 2017 study conducted by Deloitte: out of 2000 Americans, 91% accept the CGU without reading them).
One can see in this a » manufacture of consent » (to use the title by Noalm Chomsky and Edward S. Herman : Manufacturing Consent). Far from promoting free and informed consent (as committed by the European RGPD), we can see here the promotion of « assisted consent ».
How can such asymmetry between individuals (users) and companies of colossal dimensions be better understood and measured? Experts in data visualization and information design can help us, often with talent. Data visualization can indeed strike minds and make complex and abstract content sensitive.
This is what Dima Yarovinsky proposes, as part of a student project, initially realized in the infography course at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Israel), then presented at the Visualizing Knowledge conference at AALTO University (Finland).
Dima Yarovinsky’s work
Dima Yarovinsky has the talent to make visible the overwhelming character of legal terms, even if the length of texts varies greatly between services (Instagram imposes here the longest TOS, followed by Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter; Whatsapp being the shortest).
Initiatives to educate and empower people
We can also imagine and promote a system of labels to quickly identify the degree of protection of personal data guaranteed by each major service. This is what tosdr.org is doing, with a scale ranging from very good (Class A) to very bad (Class E). Their slogan:
« I have read and agree to the Terms » is the biggest lie on the web. We aim to fix that
These initiatives will support the work of educators, parents, and teachers.
Photos : Dima Yarovinsky