Hidden contracts: do you know what you're signing? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hidden contracts: do you know what you're signing?

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It doesn't take a piece of paper to create a binding agreement.  These days, all it takes is clicking on two words on the screen of your computer, I agree.

Nancy Kim, law professor, "in general, that form, that click equals a signature on a page."

A legally binding agreement with the click of a mouse.  And California Western Law professor Nancy Kim says most people have no idea.
"People don't think they're entering a contract when they click accept, they don't even often realize they're doing that."

Bob Hansen, reporter, "but how many people actually read what's on the computer screen before they click, I agree?"

"Maybe I read through it a little bit."
"It's legal stuff that just goes on and on and on and on."

"Do you ever read that stuff?" "honestly, no."

And if you don't read it, you'll have no idea what's in it.

Nancy Kim, law professor, "so it's no longer just the legal disclosures that are in those contracts, but things that actually take away rights that consumers would otherwise have."

Professor Kim says that can include giving up the right to go to court or file a class action lawsuit.  Giving up rights to your personal pictures or information, rights to get a refund, even blocking your right to leave negative comments about the company.

"You can't complain about it on any social media, I've seen that on several websites."

"You get bored about two, three lines into it so just skip it."

And that's why it is such a temptation for some online companies, a way to take advantage of consumer who don't read the fine print and yet are bound by it just the same.

Nancy Kim, law professor, "they are taking away rights under cover of consent. because you consented when you clicked agree. and courts are going along with it."

Professor Kim says the laws haven't caught up with the reality of this.  She says get the word out on social networking sites and to complain to politicians and support privacy groups.

But, bottom line, be aware that when you click "I agree", it's just like signing a piece of paper in a lawyer's office.

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