The ProblemIf you’ve ever clicked “I Agree to the Terms & Conditions” without actually reading the document, then you have experienced firsthand the issues which we are trying to resolve. End User License Agreements (EULAs) are often problematic for consumers due to their length, their use of legalese, and their inconspicuous placement in websites and apps.
What We Do
Encourage Responsible EULA Practices
The practices surrounding EULAs often present an ethical challenge. For example, lawyers who draft these legal documents are bound by Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which require them not to lie, but don’t require them to ensure understanding (American Bar Association 1983). At the same time, millions of consumers per day lie when they assert that they “have read and agree to” the EULA. The REUL lab is interested in designing practices that hold both consumers and producers of these products ethically accountable.
Increase Consumer Knowledge of EULAs
One major tenant of responsible EULA practices is ensuring the consumer has knowledge of the EULA. This knowledge is twofold: the consumer must be aware that they are entering into a legally binding agreement; and they must understand the terms of that agreement. In current EULA practices, these knowledge areas are obscured. Not all products provide the consumer an option to assert agreement; instead, this agreement is entirely implicit, assumed through the use of a product. At the same time, the design of EULAs, their use of legal jargon, and their length mean that most consumers do not read them, so remain unaware of the terms to which they have agreed. The REUL Lab seeks to improve consumer knowledge of EULAs in both areas, by building tools that make EULAs’ contents more accessible, and researching ways to increase the conspicuousness of these documents.
Better Understand Consumer Interactions with EULAs
If a EULA is deployed as an organization’s instrument to ensure its legal and financial interests, then user-centered design is an affirmative, ethical strategy to protect both parties’ interests. To this end, and guided by the principles of user-centered design, the Lab engages in user testing on a number of tools, and a range of EULAs to understand how consumers interact with End User License Agreements. These findings help us develop standards for readable, usable and accessible EULAs that meet the legally enforceable requirements of contracts.