Terms of service
The terms-of-service agreement is mainly used for legal purposes by websites and internet service providers that store a user's personal data, such as e-commerce and social networking services. A legitimate terms-of-service agreement is legally binding, and may be subject to change.
A terms-of-service agreement typically contains sections pertaining to one or more of the following topics:
- Disambiguation/definition of key words and phrases
- User rights and responsibilities
- Disclaimer/Limitation of Liability clarifying the site's legal liability for damages incurred by users
- User notification upon modification of terms, if offered
Terms of service are subject to change and vary from service to service, so several initiatives exist to increase public awareness by clarifying such differences in Terms, including:
- Copyright licensing on user content
- Transparency on government or law enforcement requests for content removal
- Notification of government or third-party requests for personal data
- Transparency of security practices
- Saved or temporary first and third-party cookies
- Data tracking policy and opt-out availability
- Pseudonym allowance
- Notification and feedback prior to changes in Terms
- Availability of previous Terms
- Notification prior to information transfer in event of merger or acquisition
- Indemnification or compensation for claims against account or content
- Cancellation or termination of account by user and or service
Criticism and lawsuits
In 1994, the Washington Times reported that America Online (AOL) was selling detailed personal information about its subscribers to direct marketers, without notifying or asking its subscribers; this article led to the revision of AOL's terms of service three years later.
On July 1, 1997, AOL posted revised terms of service to take effect July 31, 1997, without formally notifying its users of the changes made, most notably a new policy which would grant third-party business partners, including a marketing firm, access to its members' telephone numbers. Several days before the changes were to take effect, an AOL member informed the media of the changes and the following news coverage incited a large influx of internet traffic on the AOL page which enabled users to opt-out of having their names and numbers on marketing lists.
Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.
- Acceptable use policy
- Internet privacy
- Standard form contract
- Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013 film)
- Terms of Service; Didn't Read
- Kornblum, Janet (1997-07-29). "AOL dumps new member policy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "Terms of service Definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia". pcmag.com. 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Nilay Patel (January 12, 2011). "Sony follows up, officially sues Geohot and fail0verflow over PS3 jailbreak". engadget.com. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
- Pepitone, Julianne (December 18, 2012). "Instagram can now sell your photos for ads". CNNMoney. CNN. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- McCullagh, Declan; Donna Tam (18 December 2012). "Instagram apologizes to users: We won't sell your photos". Cnet. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Systrom, Kevin (December 18, 2012). "Thank you, and we’re listening". Instagram. Instagram. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- Goldman, Eric. "How Zappos' User Agreement Failed In Court and Left Zappos Legally Naked". Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- Terms of Service; Didn’t Read User rights initiative to rate and label website terms & privacy policies
- Electronic Frontier Foundation Donor-funded nonprofit organization for digital rights litigation
- Clickwrapped Ratings of the terms of service and related agreements of major consumer internet companies