How often have you read the terms and conditions of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google? If your answer is “never”, you are not alone. Does this mean you’ve signed over your first born child to these platforms unwittingly?! Probably not, but you are likely to have agreed to some terms that may surprise you. But don’t fear, all is not lost. Like Australia, New Zealand consumer protection laws go some way to providing protection against unfair terms in consumer contracts. For example, the “unfair contract terms” provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1986 allow the courts to declare certain contractual terms unlawful. Once a court declares such a term unlawful, a business applying, enforcing or relying on such terms would commit an offence. However, successfully prosecuting and enforcing these laws against multi-national platform providers may prove difficult. So your best line of defence is offence – take time to read the terms of the applications you sign up for and go in with your eyes open. While you are unlikely to be able to negotiate or change these terms, you will at least be able to modify your behaviour to limit the risk such terms can pose.
In short, accepting the platforms' terms does not mean throwing your rights away.