Scrolling to the bottom of the lengthy terms of service and clicking “accept” before joining Facebook, or Twitter, or Google plus, without ever having read a word.
And who could blame you?
iTunes’ terms of service are longer than Macbeth, and Paypal’s longer than Hamlet, according to Time Magazine.
But now a team of self-proclaimed “hackers” aim to fix all that with a start-up which takes the homework out of taking responsibility for your online privacy and provides users with everything they need to know, hopefully before they sign up.
“‘I have read and agree to the terms’ is the biggest lie on the web,” the hackers wrote on their website.
“We aim to fix that”.
“ToS;DR” stands for “Terms of Service; Didn’t Read” which is a play on the internet buzzword ”TL;DR” – or “Too Long; Do Not Read”.
The acronym can often be found in the comments section of stories people were too lazy to finish reading.
French co-founder, law student and hacktivist, Hugo Roy, told News Ltd that websites are using the terms of service to control its users.
“A basic of contract law is that people sign something they accept,” Mr Roy said.
“If they don’t accept, they can negotiate different terms for the contract.
“We’re basically trying to give the tools to allow people to understand what they sign up for, and to pressure companies into changing their terms when they abuse the users’ rights and exploit their private data or their creative content.”
ToS;DR works by giving websites a rating from A (very good), to E (very bad).
Each site is also assigned a series of badges saying “good”, “mediocre”, “alert” or “informative” depending on how their terms of service stack up to other services.
The site is a work in progress, so many of the main players have not yet been assigned a formal classification.
However, there is still plenty of information available about the terms of service of Facebook, Twitter, Google, TwitPic, Amazon, Apple and more.
Of the big five, Twitter rated the worst with five thumbs down.
Google rated the best with five thumbs up.
However, Twitter photo service, TwitPic, received the worst rating overall due to their taking full credit for users’ photos and selling them to media agencies.
Its terms of service also remove users’ right to take legal action against the company.
So how do they stack up?
– Promises to inform users about data requests from government and law enforcement
– Deletes tracking data after 10 days
– Twitter still owns the right to your content even if you deactivate your account. However it will begin to delete your account after 30 days
– Doesn’t need cookies to function, but installs third part cookies anyway
– Has an unlimited copyright license on all your content that goes beyond requirements to run the service
– Helps users to secure their content
– Allows user feedback on site changes
– Provides transparency on requests for user data from law enforcement and what threshold they must meet to obtain it
– Has unlimited license on your content
– Content can be licensed for third parties
– Users maintain ownership of their content. Service cannot be sub-licensed to third parties
– User photos can still be used throughout the site and outside of the service
– Copyright is limited to improving the service
– Posts notice of changes 14 days before they occur
– Helps to secure user data
– Provides transparency on data requests from law enforcement
– Legal jurisdiction falls within the state of California
– Google can use your content for existing and future services
– You cannot sue TwitPic for something that occurred more than a year ago
– TwitPic sells your content to media agencies and gives them the rights over photos they had no involvement in creating
– Deleted images are not really deleted
– Twitpic takes credit for your content and users indemnify the service from any claim related to their content
– Legal jurisdiction is in the state of Delaware