Reading the ‘small print’ online – what you are agreeing to when accepting Terms and Conditions when registering on a new website

Many websites that contain professionally edited content ask users to sign up as a registered user, either in order to be able to submit comments, or to be able to read further. In such cases one is usually only shown headlines, or introductory paragraphs prior to registration.

Such registration processes are usually used to capture certain personal information about you, communicate certain legal information (eg, terms and conditions, terms of service, terms of sale, privacy policy, etc. – hereafter “terms”) to you and protect the website owner, in particular through use of ‘indemnity’ clauses (passing financial risk from any third party claims against the website owner to the user).

It seems to me that such terms are often positioned in a way that it is very easy to check a box to say that you ‘agree to’ them, or have ‘read and understood’ them even when you might not have done (for example, in your enthusiam to get to the activties the site offers only to registered users), thereby potentially leading to a future unmanaged risk.

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