Robo Cop, Meet Robo Lawyer – Using AI to Understand EULAs
By Manpreet Khural | December 6, 2019
No one reads EULAs. Everyone is concerned about their online privacy. Perhaps a bit of a hyperbole, but it is true none the less that End User License Agreements (EULAs) are overlooked documents that users scroll through as quick as they can, searching for the I Agree button. If they do take the time to read them, they often find the language difficult to decipher and may not have the prerequisite knowledge to identify concerns.
Do Not Sign, a recent tool released by DoNotPay, claims to parse through the legal language of EULAs and identifies Warnings and potential Loopholes for the user to review prior to agreeing to the terms of the document. The tool can even, on the userís behalf, send letters addressing the issues to the EULA company. DoNotPay began its journey to this tool by first helping its users contest parking tickets successfully, cancel subscriptions, and even sue companies in small claims court. With its new tool, it seeks to create a new landscape in which consumers can protect their privacy and contest problematic and abusive EULAs.
Is it not ironic, however, that we would use a technology product to protect ourselves from mainly technology centric EULAs? Before we hail this as a solution to this modern problem, we must ask what capability it has to inflict harm. According to its developers and journalists who have tried it, Do Not Sign is designed to rarely if ever produce false positives, Warnings where an underlying problem does not actually exist. It can however miss some problematic terms of an agreement. Specifically, it often misses out on terms related to online tracking. If users begin to use and trust this tool, they may feel more protected than when they had to agree to a EULA by themselves. This could provide a false sense of security, a convenience that may miss an important section of terms. This may lead to an agreement made when it should not have been. There does exist a potential for harm.
Is that enough of a roadblock to stay away from Do Not Sign? Likely the answer is no. Users are not able to EULAs with the level of scrutiny that this tool can. Overall it provides them with an ability to make a more informed decision in the face of legal or technologically opaque terms. A simplification is more than welcomed. One of the goals of the tool is to provide users with negotiating power. As more people use it to understand EULAs and subsequently reject questionable ones, the companies behind the agreements may open up to letting users pick and choose terms or at least provide some kind of feedback. This empowers people to have a voice in the matter of their privacy in specifically the digital sphere. This may spark a greater interest in consumer protections and create a better framework of principles when it comes to constructing EULAs.
Overall, Do Not Sign helps users to understand an environment foreign to most of them. While there are concerns with overreliance on the tool or the tool missing critical red flags in documents, the benefits of having something like this widely available far outweighs the hurdles. As persons who deal with such privacy related agreements regularly, we should support this tool so that the masses can begin to protect themselves.