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Conditions May Apply - Thoughts

The film, Terms and Conditions May Apply left me reeling with just how much information I have put out there that is retained by companies who are not necessarily explicit in their intentions with this information. So much so that I’ve started to reconsider the merit of using some of the social media sites that are offered to me seemingly without risk. If I’m not reading the very fine print, I’m not prepared enough to understand what I’m stepping into. The fact that a big part of users have no idea what legally binding contact they are getting into is terrifying. In the film, they gave an example of how easy it is to dupe others into agreeing to terms and conditions they haven’t even bothered reading. The retailer, GameStop changed their terms and conditions for a single day to include a clause where any customers who ordered from their website would have to agree to relinquish all ownership over their “immortal soul.” As expected, not many people read through the terms and conditions and so, in April of 2010, GameStop was able to claim over 7,500 immortal souls. Though the internet is becoming easier and easier to use, we still have no idea what we are getting ourselves into, and as the film stated, it would take us a month of our year to read through all of the terms and conditions. They are muddled in legal language that not every consumer would understand. Companies are making hard for their users to understand, and that raises some really interesting questions as to why they would want to make that process so difficult.

When discussing the privacy of our information, it was surprising to hear all of the incidents in which the government was surveilling for some key words without the user knowing. What this made me think of was something that is actually incredibly relevant right now. Researchers have just discovered a huge vulnerability in the security of our personal information. It’s called the Heartbleed Bug which, “a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library.” The SSL is usually used to secure web pages that could contain sensitive information. It’s been recently discovered that the NSA might have been aware of this vulnerability and has been using it to extract “valuable” information. In the case of the Irish tourist who was stopped at the airport for a tweet that, in context, posed no threat, we see just how far the NSA is willing to go to “protect” the United States. I think, that this shows just how much the government is overexerting its reach and crossing some boundaries that need to be reestablished and defended.

As always, this is Serena, signing off.

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