Here's exactly what you agree to when accepting terms and conditions
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Apps, social media sites, even websites all ask us to agree to their terms and conditions before we get to use them. We’re all guilty of clicking that button, acknowledging we read and agree to terms of service and let’s be honest, we never even glanced at it. But are we compromising our information and security? And is there anything we can do about it?
"They’re typically binding as a matter of contract law," said Prof. Bruce Boyden, Professor of Law, Marquette University.
Bruce Boyden, a law professor at Marquette University, used to write terms of service for companies. He says a lot of times we’re agreeing to not sue the company and instead take any disputes to arbitration. We also agree to let the company collect our personal data
"When the service is free that means that you’re the product. So your information or your data is being sold to other people and that’s how the business is making its money," said Professor Boyden.
Google, for example, has a whole section about the data they’re collecting including, email you write and receive, photos, videos, location and browser history. Those terms and conditions, however, are long and confusing and if you want to use the service, you don’t have a choice.
"I don’t even read the terms and condition for the sites that I use...because typically they say roughly the same things and also there’s not much you can do about it," Boyden said.
CBS 58 went out to ask people how closely they read terms of service agreements and we asked them to sign. It turned out, everyone we spoke with admits, they don't read terms of service.
"I usually just hit accept and pretend I understood it," said Morgan Koberstein, Milwaukee resident."I give it a glance over but its kind of boiler plate at this point so I cant use the task unless I sign the thing."
CBS 58 Investigative Reporter Kristen Barbaresi asked Boyden, "Obviously terms of service are beneficial to the company. Are they ever beneficial to the consumer?"
Professor Boyden answered, "Rarely."
"Things like kids photos or medical information, sensitive, personal information that would be upsetting to anyone if it goes out in the public," said Boyden.
CBS 58 Investigative Reporter Kristen Barbaresi asked cyber security expert Caleb Madrigal, "How likely is it that a hacker could get in and take the data from some of these companies?"
Madrigal said, "it seems very common."
Madrigal said one simple thing you can do to protect yourself is assume everything you post could be made public -- and don’t use every app that comes your way. For example: those quizzes and third-party apps on Facebook.
"It’s like OK, they’re just going to do this fun little thing and then they’re going to get my data. Is that like a good value to give up my data to these people for a little trinket, five seconds of entertainment? For me, no," said Boyden.
Professor Boyden says right now there aren’t a lot of laws when it comes to how companies secure data. He thinks that should change and in the meantime consumer education is key.
"My advice would be you should be slightly nervous but not terrified," Boyden said.
One other tip from our experts, when you have the option to use Facebook or Google to log in to a new app, like Lime Scooter. Don’t do it. It just adds to the data profile those companies are collecting.
If you’re curious exactly what data has already been collected, you can actually go to sites like Google, Facebook and Instagram and download your data. It will show you what they’ve got.