How Smart Do You Have to Be?
Sunday, May 12, 2002
In a story related to our previous one on spyware,
News.com has an interesting comparison
between an IRS tax form and the
User License Agreement (EULA) for a piece of spyware.
The EULA is the screen most people skip when installing software by clicking
the "I Agree" button. A simple grammatical analysis would seem to suggest
that in terms of reading grade level, sentence complexity, and vocabulary
complexity the EULA is more complex than a tax form.
"Every month, millions of people agree to terms-of-service and privacy
contracts they haven't read--and probably wouldn't understand if they
tried--to download software without paying for it. Many are later disturbed
to find their computers coopted by little-known companies to distribute
advertisements, monitor online behavior, or help solve complicated
With many small but unfocused groups pushing for some kind of EULA reform or
guidelines, there doesn't seem to be an obvious solution to this problem.
However, one would hope that as spyware becomes more prevalent, consumer
reaction will push reluctant companies into a more honest and up front
approach to selling and distributing software.
Hey, a guy can dream, can't he? :)