Does an FTC commissioner click accept without reading? If practically no one reads these things, why do we hold people to them?

by Jeff Sovern

Regular readers of this blog know that I collect instances of people agreeing to contracts without reading them. Among my examples: Chief Justice Roberts, Judge Posner, Hillary Clinton, and consumer law professors. Now I think we can add FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips to the list, though his remarks are ambiguous enough that I can't be certain. During a July hearing before the House Commerce Committee, about 2:17 in, Commissioner Phillips said, as best I can transcribe it:

I hope in my own life and I hope that everyone in their own lives always make informed decisions. That's not always how we do things. I will admit to you I have repeatedly in the last few weeks clicked on any number of accept, accept, accept online.

It is possible that all Commissioner Phillips meant was that he clicked accept without reading carefully enough to make an informed decision.  But the way he said "accept, accept, accept" makes it sound as if he clicked "accept" without reading anything.  And I certainly don't criticize him for not reading, if indeed he did not. But if even an FTC commissioner charged with protecting consumers doesn't read these things, why do we pretend everyone does?

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