What Lawyers Do When Confronted With An EULA (Hint, They Do What The Rest Of Us Do)

What do lawyers do when they are handed boilerplate legalese documents to sign before renting a mobile phone? They do what everyone else does – they sign it without reading it.

That’s what Joseph Rosenbaum, Partner & Global Chair, Advertising, Technology & Media Law Practice, Reed Smith LLP, told attendees at the Search Insider Summit this morning, recalling what happened when he was attending a conference three years ago in Valencia, Spain, and realized he didn’t have his mobile phone with him. So he stopped at a local Vodaphone outlet and rented a temporary phone, signed the end-user license agreement – without reading it – and want on his merry way, thinking that only three types of people had his new number: “my wife, my secretary and my kids.”

Lo and behold, after participating in the conference, Rosenbaum was walking back to his hotel when his phone rang. Surprised, he looked down at the phone and received a message from a local retailer offering him a discount for shopping at a nearby store.

When Rosenbaum stopped in the store, he said the sales staff confirmed the legitimacy of the offer, but they couldn’t explain how it was made, or how it was targeted to Rosenbaum’s phone.

So he called Vodaphone and found out that because he wasn’t a European Union citizen, that when he signed the service agreement he unwittingly opted into a beta test that would allow marketers to make offers to him based on his phone’s GPS location information.

If he had been a EU citizen, he said, “That probably would’ve been illegal.”