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App-surd! Norwegians read app terms for 32 hours

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App-surd! Norwegians read app terms for 32 hours
The Norwegian consumer protection agency staged the readathon as part of its #appfail campaign. Photo: Forbrukerrådet
08:53 CEST+02:00
What exactly do we agree to when we download a smartphone app?
To prove the "absurdity" of lengthy terms and conditions, some Norwegians read those of 33 apps, from Tinder to iTunes, in a live
two-day readathon.
 
The user terms and conditions of the 33 applications typically found on a Norwegian smartphone amount to 260,000 words, or 900 pages, according to Norway's consumer protection agency Forbrukerrådet, making them a lengthier read than the New Testament.
 
In order to demonstrate the texts'  complexity, the agency asked consumers to read out the terms and conditions live on its website. The entire process took the readers 31 hours and 49 minutes.
 
"The aim is to demonstrate that the user terms for internet services, apps or other, are very bad," head of the agency's digital services section, Finn Myrstad, told AFP. "They're too long and unintelligible."
 
Users read the conditions for Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Gmail, Skype, Instagram and Angry Birds among others.
 
"Imagine if all the users in the world who have a smartphone were to spend more than 30 hours (reading). That's more than four days of work just to read the user terms and conditions on a smartphone," Myrstad said.
 
Among the conditions posing the greatest concern were those granting "perpetual" or "irrevocable" licenses to the other party, he said.
 
"This means, in practice, that the content of your app, whether it's your photos or your chats, will forever belong to the company. That's totally unacceptable and violates European and Norwegian law," Myrstad said.
 
The Norwegian consumer protection agency is a world leader in confidentiality issues. It recently criticised the French online dating service Happn and popular jogging app Runkeeper for collecting and transmitting users' data even when the apps are inactive or uninstalled.
 
Earlier this year, the agency took to the streets of Oslo to try to sell people's photos obtained from social media as a way of raising awareness of the rights consumers give up when they accept the terms and conditions of popular apps. 
 
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