Consent for all: Revealing the hidden complexity of terms and conditions

Ewa Luger, Stuart Moran, Tom Rodden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Terms and conditions are central in acquiring user consent by service providers. Such documents are frequently highly complex and unreadable, placing doubts on the validity of so called 'informed consent'. While readability and web accessibility have been major themes for some time in HCI, the core principles have yet to be applied beyond webpage content and are absent from the underpinning terms and conditions. Our concern is that accessible web pages will encourage consent, masking the complexities of the terms of usage. Using the SMOG readability formula and UK Energy services as a case study, we observed that a series of supplier terms and conditions were far beyond what a functionally literate adult could be expected to understand. We also present a browser based plug-in which compares SMOG readability scores to popular books. The intention is to use this plug-in to assist in surfacing the hidden complexities underpinning online consent.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2013
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Perspectives, Conference Proceedings - The 31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Pages2687-2696
Number of pages10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2013
Event31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Changing Perspectives - Paris, France
Duration: 27 Apr 20132 May 2013

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Conference

Conference31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Changing Perspectives
Country/TerritoryFrance
CityParis
Period27/04/132/05/13

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Consent
  • Energy
  • Literacy
  • Readability
  • SMOG
  • Usability

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