When you are asked by the likes of Mircrosoft, Apple and Google to agree to their respective terms and conditions do you ever actually sit down and plough through every word?

Thought not. The good news is that you’re probably not alone, however, the more worrying side to this equation is that very few people realise exactly what they are signing and what data you create that the vendors are entitled to look at.

Not many people outside the IT industry (and not all of those) fully comprehend exactly how much information the likes of Microsoft and other vendors take off them.

Every day tons of data, from the kind of software issues you have had to the websites you’ve surfed to, is beamed back to vendor HQ’s. Mostly this is harmless farming that is used to improve the user experience in the future.

That said, even as an IT professional I have concerns about how we find out just exactly what information is going back, how are these companies use the info gathered and who they share it with.

The good news is that most companies have very detailed privacy policies which spell out — well in dense legalise — exactly what they’re up to. These policies are designed to put our minds at rest but again very few people have the time, inclination or legal background to get to grips with them.

Most add up to thousands of words but in essence they say they will not collect or use sensitive information for purposes other than those described in their Privacy Policy.

This is how it stacks up. We have a mountain of info going to the vendors and a torrent of Terms and Conditions to keep us occupied. So should we be worried? Personally I don’t think so. The big guns have too much to lose. If people thought their privacy was being breached they would face major legal issues and there would be a catastrophic loss of confidence. In short, they can’t risk it.

If you’re not doing anything outside the law then I reckon you have nothing to worry about, but if you are then you should. I guess that’s one reason why these people are tracking information so that they can capture those that “cut corners” and aren’t compliant.

They’re watching you!