Terms And Conditions May Apply Review

Just Tick The Box

By Adam Sturrock

Terms And Conditions May Apply (2013)

Director: Cullen Hoback

Length: 80mins

Netflix: Yes

It seems almost trivial when looking at it. Both you and I have done it, but we often don’t give it a second thought. After going through the arduous process of jumping through hoops in the account creator for *insert website here* we unwittingly take for granted the most important step. The step I am referring to, of course, is ticking the little box that states one’s agreement to the terms and conditions at the bottom of the page. Everyone clicks it (they have to) but not many would be able to find a person who actually trawled through the 20+pages of legalese before accepting those terms; would they even do so after reading such a grotesque offering? What many people may be unaware of, is that a growing portion of one’s privacy is slowly being corroded and we are willingly signing up to it; largely due to our apathetic attitudes towards wasting time.

Director, Cullen Hoback and his motley crew of hacktivists, artists and programmers have put forth an enlightening documentary that corrodes the facade that our information is protected and away from prying eyes. This documentary doesn’t try to be another conspiracy theory with tin foil hats worn with pride, it may just be one of the most current and important features around in a long time.

The documentary does, however, delve into careless bias scaremongering. One particular interaction features an employee of the data extraction company, Cellebrite, talking about how iPhones are the easiest to extract information from and how their service is a tool sold to most governments. Cullen hopefully enquires if anybody else could buy the tool, inferring that people up to no-good can get a hold of our personal details. While his cast list is varied, many don’t really get into specifics as to how exactly our information is taken, only in general sound-bite friendly statements. One apparently esteemed analyst said things like, “We always want something for free,” like a, “free taco,” and, “plenty of people are willing to provide information to get that” and these kind of statements seem to be put in as filler. At the start of the documentary, they say that “consumers lose $250 million due to what’s hidden in the fine print” but we aren’t told what exactly in the fine print that does this and how we could prevent that. We don’t get a balancing argument from somebody like an investigative journalist who could be a third party in the discussion.

Often, large sections of the feature are dry and offer little humor to relieve us from the endless data.

A particular instance of such humor involving a prank made by now defunct business, Gamestation does get some laughs. The final confrontation involves staking out outside Mark Zuckerberg’s house in hope that they catch him and they draw a little chuckle after checking in on Facebook at their location, as if they are cheekily egging him on to come and get them; unfortunately, unlike most Michael Moore documentaries, their little talk comes across as awkward rather than empowering.

What we get is an attack rather than a discussion of the issue. It is admittedly skewed to one side and some of their points don’t really link together (a reference to the Milly Dowler hacking scandal doesn’t quite fit with the narrative) but overall it makes some fine points about the perversion of our human-rights. We are slowly inching away our rights to privacy in the same way that frogs don’t notice the temperature change in a pot of water until it’s too late. The documentary certainly makes that point clear. At what point is your personal details too personal?

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