TOSBack Keeps Track Of Changes To Terms Of Service Policies Around The Web

It’s difficult enough to parse a lengthy TOS for one web-based service, let alone for dozens, or to keep track of when and how they update them. It would be nice if some public-service website out there would keep track of this stuff for all of us, wouldn’t it? Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) did just that with the launch of TOSBAck.org, “the terms-of-service tracker.” It tracks TOS agreements for 44 different services, including Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, and eBay.

From the E-Commerce Times:

The site will compare old and new policies side by side and highlight changes. With about two dozen sites covered already, TOSBack.org plans to add more agreements, from credit card, bank, cable TV and other companies.

The site makes note of each instance when the TOS are updated, but you can also drill down to side-by-side comparisons of pre- and post-update versions to see what exactly has changed, as you can see in the example below. We think it’s definitely the kind of site you should add to your RSS reader, for instant notification when something changes at one of the sites you probably use daily.





TOSBack.org [EFF via E-Commerce Times] (Thanks to DK!)

Comments

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  1. Nytmare says:

    They only track websites, but this would be handy for online games too, which make you agree to the same old ToS (is it the same? who knows!) every single time you log in.

  2. kaceetheconsumer says:

    Occasionally I come across a site that has a plain language TOS or a plain language interpretation alongside the legalesse one. Such sites earn my deepest loyalty. I just wish more of the sites I need to use would do likewise.

    I have learned over the years to skim for the basic important stuff, like what does this site get to do with my info and who retains ownership of whatever words/images are shared, but even when I’ve been good and read the whole thing, I cannot sat that I fully undestand all of the twisted clauses in there. It’s just not right.

    • kaceetheconsumer says:

      @kaceetheconsumer: Should be cannot say. Damned iPod autocorrecting.

    • I Love New Jersey says:

      @kaceetheconsumer: It is the damn lawyers. The world would be a much better place if all the lawyers were gone.

      • kaceetheconsumer says:

        @I Love New Jersey: Lawyers have their place, but they need to be brought to heel, that’s for damned sure!

        I wonder if it’s endemic to the species. My 3.5 year old is a little lawyer. Give her a simple request/command and she’ll quickly pick it apart to find the loopholes. It’s exhausting.

  3. lancepeeples says:

    In the example above from Google, you got to love the requirement to accept any future amendments. What if they demand one’s first born child, disclosure of personal data or mandatory contributions to the CEO’s retirement party?

    • kaceetheconsumer says:

      @Lance Peeples: I guess that’s where we have to rely on the hierarchy of laws that can trump such requests. Like how if you sign a contract in which there’s a clause to do something illegal, it doesn’t mean you can do the illegal thing out of contractual obligation.

      But yeah. I hate it when one side gets to change the terms any time it feels like it. That’s one to watch out for in publishing contracts, as some of my author friends have learned the hard way…

  4. XTC46 says:

    I bet more than 95% of people (probabaly closer to 99%) are still to lazy to read this. I work as an IT professional, and I rarely come accorss somone who pauses to look at things that pop up, they all just click the box and click ok. People just dont care.

    • GildaKorn says:

      @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: I figure they’d have a really hard time proving i court that the agreement was displayed and readable AND that I had “signed” it myself by clicking it. It’s not enough to simply say “Well, it should have appeared during the installation process”.

  5. SonaliHamlegs says:

    I’m not sure I’m ever going to get the whole internet-obsession with terms of service. I’m an avid facebook-user, but what on earth was that collective interwebs freak-out over the terms of service change??? “fbook is claiming ownership of my aim screen name and membership in the ‘ren and stimpy rules!’ group?!?! EVERYBODY PANIC.”

    meh. i just don’t care.

    • econobiker says:

      @SonaliHamlegs:
      The biggest item here is that messing of definitions by businesses to sound “sweeter” ie: Terms of Service = CONTRACT. [Just like those scum at (not so free)free$credit$report mean “Enrollment in Triple Advantage” = Purchase of a monthly service.]

      It is just that some of these companies were saying that the company could change the TOS at anytime without updating the customer. The companies were basically saying that it was up to the customer for regularly checking for TOS changes.

      So the TOS(contract) could change to indicate that your credit card will now be charged for Facebook for one full year unless you write a snail mail letter to a certain obscure Utah address within 15 days of the first charge and include specific information and only specific information on the paper letter you must write.

      Think about how the TOS/(contract) could change to that shadow legal system created by businesses called “Mandatory Binding Arbitration.” Oops, Facebook changed TOS(contract) to MBA so now if an ex or a predator starts harassing you because their service let that person on without any verification you must go through arbitration and not be able to sue them in court for their cruddy id verification service, etc, etc, etc.