Quick Thoughts on Terms and Conditions

Note: This post has been automatically imported from my old blog. Formatting may be incorrect.

(Note: I am not a lawyer, and this post does not necessarily reflect the state of any current legal system. This is a post about the morality, not the current legality, of a particular type of action)

To the savvy internet user, it's second-nature: You find a new website requiring login information, you create a new account, put in your details, make sure to uncheck all the boxes allowing them to spam you, and check the box agreeing to the terms and conditions, and move on to using the site. But how many people actually read those terms and conditions? They may be obnoxiously long, written in dense legalese, and grant ridiculous powers to the content provider, but checking that box without reading, understanding, and committing to act in accordance with those terms is morally equivalent to fraud (there is a possible border case if you're willing to accept their terms without reviewing them and the checkbox doesn't specify that you have read the terms, but that is a dangerous decision). This is an extremely clear-cut case: the owners of the site have the right to set any terms they wish delimiting your use of their property. You may not like it, you may not want to spend the time needed to read through the contract, and you may not like the terms you find if you do, but your only moral choices are to accept the terms, negotiate new terms with the owner, or decline the use of the site. To make any other choice is to force your desires on the site owner.