The Clicking Without Reading Problem

Dennis W. K. Khong (School of Law, University of Manchester)

Abstract: This paper discusses the common problem of Internet and computer users clicking and agreeing to online and electronic contract terms without first reading and evaluating them. The clicking without reading problem is an extension to the signing without reading problem occurring with paper-based contracts. In this paper I examine the reasons why it might be efficient for individuals to click without reading, although it might lead to a socially inefficient outcome. A behavioural approach will be used to analyse this problem, and paternalistic approach such as the UK Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the European Directive on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts are examined. Finally, taking into account the unique characteristics of online and electronic contracts and the associated goods and services, this paper suggests a solution in favour of paternalism as against libertarian paternalism.

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