Consumer protectionStreaming services are popular – General Terms and Conditions are barely read

This week, the German market watchdog of the digital world of the Consumer Association Rhineland-Palatinate presented its research results on streaming services on the Internet. It shows that the majority of consumers uses video and music streaming services, but is concerned about personal data and asks for more compact General Terms and Conditions (GTC). For this representative survey, the forsa Institute was commissioned to interview 2,000 Internet users between 14 and 65 years online in December 2016.

These are the main results: 

  • The majority of 90 percent of Internet users streams music and videos online. In particular, younger consumers between 14 and 29 years use paid services. Among them, 73 percent pay for video and 39 percent for music content.
  • Most users are concerned about their personal data – they are especially interested what happens with the data after the contract ends and if their data is passed on to third parties.
  • 82 percent of respondents think that the GTC are generally too long. Compared to stationary computers, reading long GTC on mobile devices is perceived even more annoying. Three quarters of respondents assume the terms of operators with a professional appearance to be legally faultless.
  • More than half of the users report to merely skim the GTC of streaming services and nearly one third accepts them unread. Thus, the majority (87 percent) would like terms to be more compact. In this regard, information about the automatic extension of subscriptions and contracts, contract termination and pricing are considered important.

For a clear presentation of the GTC, the German Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) proposes the 'button solution', which has been applied in eCommerce. In doing so, relevant consumer information is presented in a concise manner. Heike Schulze, member of the legal and trade team at vzbv, pointed out: "It is important that the GTC and other information can be easily collected and understood by consumers – even if they have little time in their daily lives and are not lawyers. Moreover, companies should refrain from reproducing the generally applicable law in the GTC. Information is only of additional value if contractual terms are different from what is stated in the law."

Source: Watchdog of the digital world

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