Feeds

Adobe demands 7,000 years a day from humankind

It's all in the EULA fine print

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Rules and regulations

There’s evidently an uneasiness about the concept of responsibility, as the vendor seeks to limit its responsibility to the user and yet in the same text, regards the user as irresponsible and insists they follow every whim concealed in the agreement. Oddly enough, this resonates with the banking crisis. Bear with me here. Recently, as speaker in the BBC’s Reith Lecture series, Harvard History Professor Niall Ferguson argued against regulation in the banking sector. The phrase he oft repeated was that the banking crisis did not reflect the rule of law, but the rule of lawyers. In short, those that had taken us into this mess went unpunished and that impenetrable regulation had made it impossible for justice to be seen to be done.

He remarked that if there was less regulation and in its place the certain knowledge that those who stepped out of line would be met with the full power of the law, then fewer destabilising risks would be taken and more sensible decisions would likely follow as a consequence. Again, it’s all down to acting responsibly and if that can be safely assumed with clear and simple rules, then you don’t need to get bogged down in incomprehensible legalese and its associated expense.

Dodd-Frank Act on Kindle

The Dodd-Frank Act was passed to improve "transparency in the financial system" yet it's 394,894 words long

Ferguson remarked that after the banking crisis talks in the US, the remedy in the Dodd-Frank Act was further excessive regulation. “The act requires that regulators create 243 new rules, conduct 67 studies - to see if the rules are necessary - and issue 22 periodic reports.” You can read all of the lecture here.

Hands up who thinks that has worked?

So how do we unravel the licence agreement prerequisite that dogs all our software installations? Those thousands and thousands of unread words that someone was paid to write and others paid to check and double check. Perhaps software vendors could assume that users will act responsibly. There will always be those users that don’t, but how is having a lengthy licence agreement ever going to have any impact on their behaviour?

Like the banking deregulation idea, it’s all about knowing the rules. I thought I knew the rules about installing Flash, based on common sense presumptions, but there’s some bloody stupid stuff in there I’ve found... assuming I understood. And there lies the problem.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Companies don’t want to hold a gun to your head when you invest in a product and bark, ‘you better behave buster or you’re dead’. So the weapon of fear is concealed in legalese that they don’t even want us to read, let alone understand. In fact, I have doubts that any company would expect users to abide by these rules. Why? Because these agreements are put together by people too and, except in case of professional interest, they’ll be ticking I agree without reading a word for their own computing needs too.

So it’s farcical. We all know this as it’s part of our everyday experience. The weapon of fear of prosecution doesn’t work because the numbers are so vast and most users are reasonably well behaved. And those naughty people that need to be concerned about what’s in them will turn a blind eye, just like the rest of us are encouraged to. If corporations think weighty licence agreements work, the lie isn’t just with us as we tick I agree and understand, it is with them too.

The issue isn’t just to do with being obliged to lie just to proceed with a software installation, it’s the assumption that what you are agreeing to is reasonable and you needn’t worry your little head by reading any of it. Yet in some instances, the hoops you’re being asked to jump through are extremely unreasonable and it’s time this idiocy was filleted out. It could surely make software cheaper and more attractive to buy.

So, to ask the question again: just what is it that the licence contains that they’d rather we didn’t dwell on? The answer must be the relationship that you have with the company as a customer. It’s a behind-the-scenes contract that says, we have to do this, but you don’t have to worry about it if you play fair. It’s like assuming the person you marry will be faithful only for them to tell you later: I was always going to screw around, honey, I thought you knew.

Indeed, the trouble with this arrangement is there is an increasing arrogance in what is considered acceptable to demand from the user. A lot of this can be buried in licence agreements that sprawl into issues of privacy which then links to yet another policy document and another ten minutes or more of your life that you’ll never have back again. And so it goes.

For me, this all began with a feeling of unease about the lies we routinely tell for our everyday computing needs – we never read this stuff and it seems like we're not expected to either. Yet I’ve come to the conclusion that this discontent has less to do with this process troubling an innate honesty. It is more about an increasing feeling of contempt for the 'I agree and understand' approach that, time and again, undermines personal integrity to perpetuate what amounts to a meaningless relationship. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV
Alert system tips oblivious phone junkies to oncoming traffic
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.