Would you believe if someone were to tell you that you can shop online without “agreeing” to any terms and conditions? No, right? Or have you ever wondered why your favorite item from the retail website that you browsed ten minutes ago is popping up on your Instagram account? At some point in our lives, we all have browsed websites and downloaded mobile applications without reading the much omnipresent terms of use. So, is it necessary to read these terms?



Understanding Website/Mobile App Usage Terms

Website/Mobile App terms may manifest in different forms (terms & conditions, privacy policy, user terms etc.), the intent being to create a legally binding agreement between the service provider and the user. While some terms become effective only when the user clicks “I agree” box, certain terms get triggered merely by visiting a website.

What do terms of use contain?

Inclusion of terms of use lay down the guidelines for using the services while disclaiming any liability arising out of the use of such services. The privacy policy primarily elucidates the way a user’s personal information (including browsing details) is collected, gathered, store, shared and deleted. T&Cs set out non-negotiable rules that one must agree with before using the service. So, the next time you acknowledge the website’s notification regarding cookie tracking, you know that your online activity is being monitored.

Why should I read these terms of use?

Apart from obtaining your express consent to use, process and store personal information, the legal fine-print makes you agree to receiving pre-programmed location alerts, updates regarding the services and details on advertising campaigns and promotional offers. It allows the website/mobile app owner to disclaim any liabilities, set, track cookies.

One may believe because no one reads these terms, they are not binding. However, from the legal perspective, terms constitute a formal agreement between the user and the service provider. The UAE Law on Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law provides that an on-line contract may be concluded between two or more automated electronic systems; without personal intervention, and such contract shall be valid under law.

Let’s say you are using a website to buy certain crucial medicines, it is of utmost importance to read website terms to ensure available remedies in counterfeit cases. Or, if you are booking air tickets through a mobile app, it may be helpful to read the terms to ascertain rights in case of unnecessary rescheduling or baggage damage. The court may decide to strike out such terms in extremely vile clauses, ignorance of law has never been accepted as an excuse and the law still requires user to be cautious. For all you know, with a tap of your finger, you may be agreeing to something that you did not intend to agree on.



Authored by Cherry Bhatnagar (Senior Associate)

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