Friday, February 27, 2009

Yada yada yada

While I'm carping about the web.experience ...

A certain health insurance provider runs a web site that, in theory at least, provides me access to my records online. To get to it, I first have to accept their terms of service. No problem. Then, this being health care in the US, I have to confirm that I've read their privacy notice.

As is often the case, the web interface puts up a scrolling box containing the yada yada I'm supposed to have read. The first one, I'm sure, says "Don't do anything illegal, don't try to crack our security and here are some other rules we hope we have the legal right to enforce." The second one is related to HIPAA so it means ... something, I'm sure.

But here's the thing. As usual, they try to ensure that you've read the fine print is by requiring that you scroll through the whole thing. The script behind this doesn't care how long you take. Scroll down in half a second and hey, you read it. Go out for a cup of coffee, come back and scroll through in half a second and hey, you read it. I don't have any hard numbers on how many people really read through these things, especially after they've seen one or two. I'm guessing you could fit most of them in a mini-van.

But here's the other thing. The script doesn't work. I can scroll right through it all I want, and whatever I do I get the same popup. The wording is interesting: They would like me to please read the text, but (whether I read it or not) I must scroll to the bottom before clicking on "go ahead". They don't care if I've actually read it, but they're bound and deterimined to make sure I scroll through it.

Now, I realize that all this machinery is here so that the company's legal department can say "Look, at least we tried to get them to read the fine print," and I suppose it could be worse. They could make you read it Captcha by Captcha, for example. It just would sure be nice if the script worked.

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