Two weeks ago I attended a few days of the Gruter Institute’s session on Law & Behavioral Sciences in Tahoe. I was quite excited to find Joshua Fairfield there, a law professor from Washington & Lee Law School, talking about exactly one of the problems that fascinates me (and that I’ll be working on next year):
How do we help a normal person doing normal things on the Internet) have a fairer, more protected, more balanced contracting experience when he buys stuff online or uses any tech services/hardware?
How can we help a person contract fairly with a business online?
Fairfield identifies this as one of the main problems of Law today. That most people are presented with a huge proliferation of contracts as they go about their life online, that they have no way to even comprehend what they are agreeing to, and that even if they do want to act on this contract, they are in no position to negotiate the terms, decline the terms, or otherwise affect the contract before signing it. And once they sign it, they are almost always locked into an arbitration.
I will be teaching in Autumn Quarter on this challenge area — and using the design process to help us create some new ideas — hopefully that will be usable and promising for new modes of business-to-consumer contracting.