Samsung, unambiguous consent? Don’t think so!

How positively surprised I was, when a privacy notification suddenly covered the screen of my Samsung S7. I couldn’t close it nor continue using my phone until I agreed to various policies and conditions.  

It started out with the following text: 
 “Tap the links below and read the terms carefully. If you continue, you confirm that you have read and agreed to the following terms. Samsung account uses your personal information. See the Privacy Policy for details.” 

I was given the choice to opt-in for one of the following:  

  • I agree to the General Terms and Conditions 
  • I agree to Special Terms and Conditions 
  • Enable custom service (optional) 
  • I agree to share my contact details with Samsung so that I can use the Samsung Social service (optional) 
    This may involve the use of mobile data or text messages, which may incur additional costs.  
  • I have read and agree to everything above 

Being a privacy professional, I of course started reading the terms and conditions carefully. I quickly encountered a first obstacle. The privacy policy of Samsung consisted of just under 16,000 words and the terms and conditions of just under 6,000 words. This meant that I had to read more than 22,000 words at an inappropriate time. The notification was forced on me when I actually needed to use my phone.  

Preferably I would have only agreed to have read their new privacy policy, but unfortunately this was not an option. This is when I encountered the second obstacle. It seemed that I could not continue using my phone without accepting all optional and compulsory conditions. I discovered that the button <<continue>> solely became available after having filled all the dots or after filling the last dot which automatically fills all dots.  

Sad Samsung, you have truly disappointed me… Perhaps this is worse than asking nothing at all. I feel misled, as before I knew it, I had agreed to all these changes. I embarked upon an online search and discovered how to alter my privacy settings: Settings > Cloud and accounts > Accounts > Samsung account > Privacy > Custom service.
I succeeded in changing my privacy preferences after all, but then received the following message: “Are you sure? Custom service enhances your experience with personal content in supporting apps and services.” 

From a legal point of view, there is no way this interaction can be considered as unambiguous consent so what is the point of forcing this onto your users, Samsung? I think I’ll follow the advice of my boss and switch to a more privacy minded phone…