Most of us who work on computers would know that the vast majority of users don't read the terms and conditions of software or websites, blindly clicking on the "i agree" box/button/link. sometimes evidence of this can been seen on a Stack Exchange Meta where a user whines about they've been suspended prompting the mods to point out that they violated the terms and conditions with their behavior, the user then tries to claim they didn't read/understand them but that is no defense (many episodes of Border Security shows people getting caught out in violating Customs Regulations by making false declarations and their defense is always they didn't understand)

When i was doing an update on my iPad Apple makes you re-agree to their terms and conditions before you can start the update and like anyone else i blindly agreed. likewise with Playstation Network updated their terms and conditions i just hit i agree so i could log in.

I got thinking, what stops a company updating their terms and conditions (or even having it at the very beginning) to take advantage of User Stupidity? for instance Apple updating their Terms and Conditions to indicate that my agreeing to the Terms and Conditions you give them access will go though the contents of any email account set up on an iPad...or Sony taking away any unused Playstation Network Wallet Money at the end of every finical year and denying access to any digital games that have not been downloaded in 6 months (regardless if they were paid for or freebies)

2 Answers 2


Since this is a site about the legal prohibitions, I will simply mention the marketing and business disaster this would be if they tried in passing.

Most jurisdictions (at least in the developed world) have laws that protect consumers. For example, the law in Australia is the Australian Consumer Law which is regulated by ASIC or the ACCC. ASIC deals with financial products and services (banking, insurance etc.), the ACCC deals with everything else.

Of specific relevance are the provisions dealing with unfair contract terms ASIC/ACCC.

Note that these are in addition to the common law rights against unfair terms that everyone has access to. At present they are limited to consumers but from 12 November 2016 they will extend to small business as well. In addition to being easier to prove than a common law violation, the law also gives power to the regulator to prosecute business that engage in such practises a civil offence; the fines are substantial (six figures).


Two things: first, if the terms are too unreasonable they might be held unenforceable, defeating the purpose of having terms in the first place; second, trying to have such terms enforced - even once - could be very bad for business and the kind of companies that sell boxed/cloud software are big enough to lose a lot of business if they get caught being unfair. For these reasons, you'll typically see fairly standard terms across the board - what it has been determined the market will bear and the law will support. If a rational company does it, it's because it makes them more and/or safer money than the alternative.

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