Notice and Manifestation of Assent to Browse-Wrap Agreements in the Age of Evolving Crawlers, Bots, Spiders and Scrapers: How Courts Are Tethered to Their Application of Register and Cairo and Why Congress Should Mandate Use of the Robots Exclusion Standard to Prevent Circumvention of Responsibility

By: Michael Laven

Introduction:  In 2012, when Internet users browsed the World Wide Web looking for the best price on a new Apple product, Thanksgiving flight or car insurance, they inevitably encountered a brave new world of manifestation of assent to a contract: the world of “click-through” and “browse-wrap” agreements. The click-through agreement probably garners the most awareness from the average Internet user, as satisfactory completion usually involves clicking “agree” or “yes” before the one is allowed to continue – a physical action from the user that is mandatory. However, much more commonplace, as at appears on virtually every website, although much less conspicuous, is the browse-wrap agreement. This type of agreement is found on websites of all varieties, including commercial, educational and personal websites, and allows for acceptance of the website’s “terms of use” simply through the conduct of continued use of the website. The user therefore has notice of the terms, may read them if they desire and may discontinue their use of the website if dissatisfied with the terms offered. Bits and pieces of litigation have arisen involving both click-through and browse-wrap agreements, certain issues have been settled, but, with technology evolving so quickly, the current state of the law leaves many uncertainties for web users and designers alike.

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