Terms of Service

I really enjoy engaging with others online.  There’s so much that need to be learned.

Yesterday, I had one of those moments.  I had written a post about justdelete.me and my thoughts about how it could be used for more than the purpose that you might first think.  Doug Belshaw from the Badges branch of the Mozilla Foundation left a recommendation that I take a look at the Terms of Service; Didn’t Read website.

As it would happen, I had written on a similar topic earlier this month.  “The Most Ignored Click“.

The site is full of fascinating reads.  The project’s goal is to rank web services from A-E (or very good to very bad) based upon the details in the terms of service.

As I noted in my post, and it’s the gist of this site, who reads these terms of service?  Even more, at home the installer of the software should know the legal details (yeah, right) but do the kids who use the same computer and the same software even have an inkling?  How about at schools?  If your IT Department images your computer, in theory one technician reads and understands the legal parts and assumes that for everyone that uses it!

So, I can see some real value in a project like this for those of us who aren’t legal scholars and just want to use the software.

Take a look through the site and see the highlights of your favourite software vendor or online service.  It really is an interesting read.

I think that the biggest issue that pops out at me is the ability to change the terms and conditions at any time.  It seems to me that it makes agreeing to that particular condition is a futile exercise.

Thanks, Doug, for sharing this site.  It really got me thinking today.

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5 Replies to “Terms of Service”

  1. I had heard about this site on Spark earlier this year, and shared it with Royan and Andrew Campbell earlier this summer, when we were bouncing ideas about TOS around. I think it would be a great one to look at with students. Thanks to you and Doug Belshaw for sharing.

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  2. Thanks for posting this Doug. Excellent points to think about. We’ve seen the impact “changing the terms and conditions at any time” can have when Facebook played with the privacy settings on accounts a few years back. It’s important to keep our eyes open.

    Great resources added to your post!

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  3. Let’s put the kudos where they lie, Lisa. It was Doug that let me know about it. The site just needs to grow and there will be continuing value to it.

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  4. Jane, I echo your thoughts about “changing the terms and conditions at any time”. It begs the question about whether you should even consider paying attention to the TOS if they’re going to change. As for the resources, thanks. I used to just use them privately to extend my reading and then figured – why not share? They’re not always 100% applicable but generally pretty interesting at some level.

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  5. Hi Doug! I am another guilty member of the “do not read the terms of service agreement,” and like so many others I check the box that states that I did read and agree with all its contents. I also was very much displeased when one of the sites decided to change its condition, I think, and it backfired on me. Did you hear me say,”I think?”.Well the truth is I probably never read it so I really can’t attest to the fact that it really did come back to bite me in the butt. As a result, I began receiving a bunch of junk mail. I went from having three emails a day to about fifty. Let me inform you that this has been going on now for at least three years. I often wonder if the geek squad at Best Buy really read all of those agreement terms. I have truly learned a valuable lesson from that experience. With that being said, I will truly start reading for myself or either hire someone to do it for me. Keep up the good work.

    Tracy

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