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Terms of Service

13 minute read |An icon depicting a retail tag with a heart for 'favourite'Privacy

Mornings With Mark no. 0162

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Bad Robot Transcript

Morning, everybody. How you doing today? Before we get started with the show. Click here to accept the terms of service for this episode. Don’t want to do that. But that’s what we’re talkin about. Today’s terms of service and legal clickwrap agreements. Now that’s a term for a legal agreement that you are forced to essential except before you can use a service.

Now, that’s not out of the ordinary to have to accept an agreement before starting to do business with something but given the rate at which we are accepting these things. It’s up to us to understand what’s in them. Now. Yet as always I am not a lawyer. I do however read a ton of these terms of service agreements in the course of my security and privacy research getting ready for various media interviews my radio call him that kind of thing.

So very familiar with how these things are structured. And now there was this great study that came out this week from two professors on the social science research around the complexity of these agreements it as part of their research project. They analyzed over 500 terms of service from various sites around the internet.

I’m including the big ones like Google and Facebook and Twitter and they found that these were essentially unreadable and by that what they mean is that they did an analysis of the complexity of the wording Within These agreements as well as the sentence like there’s some standard on measurements standard tools to help measure readability.

And basically they found you need to go 14 years of education in order to truly understand these agreements the terms-of-service agreements. Now the average recommendation for anything that’s public-facing is about eighth grade and these guys went well beyond where the terms of service that we normally click on went.

Well beyond that into graduate-level understanding so most people truly don’t understand what they’re agreeing to after they read it and that’s assuming they actually read it. I am confident saying that and I know that didn’t sound, so let me restate that. I’m confident saying that you’ve agreed to hundreds of these things yourself whether you What are not using any of these services on you agree to terms of service now? We’re seeing it on websites where they pop up with a Hole by surfing is that you accept our terms of service not even signing up for an account.

So this is a major problem because these terms of service Easy Legal agreements essentially control how the internet does business whether it’s actually called out or not. So when you sign up for an account, they lay out the terms of service and sometimes they have a nice human readable version but that’s not what’s legally binding is a legal contract there and he still wants for pages and pages and pages and Pages.

There’s been many jokes about the length of these things with how long it would take you to actually printed out and go through them there been cases where people have actually hidden hilarious contests or crazy statements. Like we’ll get your first born inside of these agree with you cuz they know nobody actually reads them but that’s a major major problem because all of these things dictate what a company can do with your data, they can dictate what they can allow or what they allow you to do.

Service when they can interjecting cut you off. So we’ve all seen challenges around people losing their Facebook accounts or losing access to various social media accounts and not having any recourse and that’s a problem because one of the defining factors of these terms of service is that they lay out where any legal challenges will take place.

They lay out the jurisdiction if you want to sue the company is going to be in the jurisdiction of their choice and you better believe that they have picked up that jurisdiction based on an expectation of a favorable ruling or something else deeper into the terms of service. Now, that’s a problem because you have these binding agreements and they’re being if there is a problem with it, it’s going to be debated and you know, I really made on the company’s favorite ground, but even worse in this is my number one problem with these terms of service agreements is that every single one that I’ve ever read Because this is a smart lawyer move cuz if you can get the other party to agree to it, why wouldn’t you almost every single one of these agree? Has a clause like the one you were looking at right now and this is a Twitter’s and we’re going to see Facebook’s and Google’s in a minute and they all essentially say the same thing as slightly different wording.

They say that they are allowed to update the terms of service at any point in time and your continued use of their service or product marks in agreement these updated terms. Now some of these agreements call out and see if it’s a material change. We’re going to let you know so that you can be conscious of the change that will advertise it ahead of time, but they decide what’s a material change it but they all almost all have this agreement where you agreed to it and then they can change the terms at any point in time.

This isn’t just services like Facebook or Twitter or Google and this also applies to your internet service provider you are using their service based on various terms now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing against having contractual agreements that explain what the relationship is between two parties. In fact, I think that’s a very good I think that makes it clear as to what the expectations are with the trade-off is what is a business exchange year.

I think the problem is that it’s significantly disproportionate when it comes to all these services that we are using date today people is going great. I can go get service X I can just type in information to Google and they will Point me towards results are terms of service that govern that or I can upload videos to YouTube and not your great people can see my video and maybe I can make some money down the road if that’s what you’re into our terms of service.

RN play that you did not have any hand in negotiating sound like a normal business transaction where we figure it out and we’ll negotiate New Breed specific terms. They are being presented to you in a Flash and you are expected to agree to move on and essentially we all just click anyway and go there was a great stock from the Google Chrome team few years back that they had analyzed security prompts within the Chrome browser.

Basically, they said they’re people just click on it when you ask them. I’m to continue because they want to accomplish your goal. And if you put anything in their way, they’re going to agree to it to move on and I think the same thing applies for terms of service.

But the challenge here’s the terms of service have a very real legal consequences as this study has shown have none of us were very few of us can actually read and understand them yet. We are all agreeing to them. This will come back and bite us at some point.

The only question is at what scale how badly and is there anything we can do about it? Let me know what you think. Hit me up online at Mark and see a in the comments down below and as always by email me at Mark and. CA have you ever read the terms of service? Did you understand it? Did you like it? Were you aware of the scale of the problem? We need to start talking about this because it is only going to get worse from here on out.

Hope you are set up for a great day. We’ll talk to online and we’ll see how the next episode of the show. Morning, everybody. How you doing today? Before we get started with the show. Click here to accept the terms of service for this episode. Don’t want to do that.

But that’s what we’re talkin about. Today’s terms of service and legal clickwrap agreements. Now that’s a term for a legal agreement that you are forced to essential except before you can use a service. Now, that’s not out of the ordinary to have to accept an agreement before starting to do business with something but given the rate at which we are accepting these things.

It’s up to us to understand what’s in them. Now. Yet as always I am not a lawyer. I do however read a ton of these terms of service agreements in the course of my security and privacy research getting ready for various media interviews my radio call him that kind of thing.

So very familiar with how these things are structured. And now there was this great study that came out this week from two professors on the social science research around the complexity of these agreements it as part of their research project. They analyzed over 500 terms of service from various sites around the internet.

I’m including the big ones like Google and Facebook and Twitter and they found that these were essentially unreadable and by that what they mean is that they did an analysis of the complexity of the wording Within These agreements as well as the sentence like there’s some standard on measurements standard tools to help measure readability.

And basically they found you need to go 14 years of education in order to truly understand these agreements the terms-of-service agreements. Now the average recommendation for anything that’s public-facing is about eighth grade and these guys went well beyond where the terms of service that we normally click on went.

Well beyond that into graduate-level understanding so most people truly don’t understand what they’re agreeing to after they read it and that’s assuming they actually read it. I am confident saying that and I know that didn’t sound, so let me restate that. I’m confident saying that you’ve agreed to hundreds of these things yourself whether you What are not using any of these services on you agree to terms of service now? We’re seeing it on websites where they pop up with a Hole by surfing is that you accept our terms of service not even signing up for an account.

So this is a major problem because these terms of service Easy Legal agreements essentially control how the internet does business whether it’s actually called out or not. So when you sign up for an account, they lay out the terms of service and sometimes they have a nice human readable version but that’s not what’s legally binding is a legal contract there and he still wants for pages and pages and pages and Pages.

There’s been many jokes about the length of these things with how long it would take you to actually printed out and go through them there been cases where people have actually hidden hilarious contests or crazy statements. Like we’ll get your first born inside of these agree with you cuz they know nobody actually reads them but that’s a major major problem because all of these things dictate what a company can do with your data, they can dictate what they can allow or what they allow you to do.

Service when they can interjecting cut you off. So we’ve all seen challenges around people losing their Facebook accounts or losing access to various social media accounts and not having any recourse and that’s a problem because one of the defining factors of these terms of service is that they lay out where any legal challenges will take place.

They lay out the jurisdiction if you want to sue the company is going to be in the jurisdiction of their choice and you better believe that they have picked up that jurisdiction based on an expectation of a favorable ruling or something else deeper into the terms of service. Now, that’s a problem because you have these binding agreements and they’re being if there is a problem with it, it’s going to be debated and you know, I really made on the company’s favorite ground, but even worse in this is my number one problem with these terms of service agreements is that every single one that I’ve ever read Because this is a smart lawyer move cuz if you can get the other party to agree to it, why wouldn’t you almost every single one of these agree? Has a clause like the one you were looking at right now and this is a Twitter’s and we’re going to see Facebook’s and Google’s in a minute and they all essentially say the same thing as slightly different wording.

They say that they are allowed to update the terms of service at any point in time and your continued use of their service or product marks in agreement these updated terms. Now some of these agreements call out and see if it’s a material change. We’re going to let you know so that you can be conscious of the change that will advertise it ahead of time, but they decide what’s a material change it but they all almost all have this agreement where you agreed to it and then they can change the terms at any point in time.

This isn’t just services like Facebook or Twitter or Google and this also applies to your internet service provider you are using their service based on various terms now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing against having contractual agreements that explain what the relationship is between two parties. In fact, I think that’s a very good I think that makes it clear as to what the expectations are with the trade-off is what is a business exchange year.

I think the problem is that it’s significantly disproportionate when it comes to all these services that we are using date today people is going great. I can go get service X I can just type in information to Google and they will Point me towards results are terms of service that govern that or I can upload videos to YouTube and not your great people can see my video and maybe I can make some money down the road if that’s what you’re into our terms of service.

RN play that you did not have any hand in negotiating sound like a normal business transaction where we figure it out and we’ll negotiate New Breed specific terms. They are being presented to you in a Flash and you are expected to agree to move on and essentially we all just click anyway and go there was a great stock from the Google Chrome team few years back that they had analyzed security prompts within the Chrome browser.

Basically, they said they’re people just click on it when you ask them. I’m to continue because they want to accomplish your goal. And if you put anything in their way, they’re going to agree to it to move on and I think the same thing applies for terms of service.

But the challenge here’s the terms of service have a very real legal consequences as this study has shown have none of us were very few of us can actually read and understand them yet. We are all agreeing to them. This will come back and bite us at some point.

The only question is at what scale how badly and is there anything we can do about it? Let me know what you think. Hit me up online at Mark and see a in the comments down below and as always by email me at Mark and. CA have you ever read the terms of service? Did you understand it? Did you like it? Were you aware of the scale of the problem? We need to start talking about this because it is only going to get worse from here on out.

Hope you are set up for a great day. We’ll talk to online and we’ll see how the next episode of the show.