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L.A. Times Review of ‘Terms and Conditions May Apply’

Review: ‘Terms and Conditions May Apply’ explores loss of privacy
Director Cullen Hoback’s concise documentary explores the loss of privacy online and takes aim at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

By Sheri Linden
July 17, 2013, 8:00 a.m.

The term “opting in” suggests a matter of choice. But as the thoughtful and spirited documentary “Terms and Conditions May Apply” makes chillingly clear, choices are few for netizens. It’s nearly impossible to function online without signing away privacy rights and basic protections. Sounding an alarm about those ubiquitous “I Agree” check boxes and the legalese that nobody has time to read, the film examines the many ways that typical Digital Age contracts are anything but free for the user.

In inverse proportion to typically long-winded, inscrutable terms of service, the film is concise, direct and thoroughly engaging. Director Cullen Hoback punctuates the robust discussion with well-chosen movie and TV clips. A strong collection of interviewees, from privacy advocates to people whose innocent Web activity put them on the wrong side of the law, define the price of online profiles, especially within social networks.

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