If you need help getting to sleep, this live video stream might do the trick. The Norwegian Consumer Council, a government-funded rights group, has organized an event to read aloud the terms and conditions governing the use of 33 of Norway’s most popular apps. All that legalese amounts to over 250,000 words. It will take about 30 hours.
The reading, held in English and Norwegian at the council’s office in Oslo, started at 9am CET, and it was in its third hour at the time of writing. Some 40 people form the relay team for the reading, including politicians, government officials, students, and digital rights experts. “Different reading tempos” might prolong the ordeal beyond the estimated 30 hours, says Finn Myrstad, who heads the council’s digital services section.
The absurdity of the event showcases the outsized burdens consumers bear when trying to understand their digital rights. Reams of opaque terms and conditions placed by app makers make it difficult for users to understand exactly what they’re agreeing to when they fire up an app. “When you actually sit down and read these terms, you realize how ridiculous they are,” says Myrstad.
What does the consumer council have planned when the reading draws to an end? “Just thank you and good night,” Myrstad says, before adding: “We’re not looking forward to the iTunes terms. It’s about 50 pages, so it will take quite a few hours.”