Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Terms of service

Every time you sign up for a new service or download an update you get that annoying window with the terms of service. Does anyone read them? We merrily click Yes I accept and move on to the more interesting business of starting the application. We blindly trust that there's nothing unfair or restrictive in these terms and hope for the best. We could be signing away ourselves to lifetime enslavement for all we know. Our trust is complete.

Maybe that's the whole point even from the service provider's perspective. The terms are usually several pages long, in very small print and using lawyer-friendly language. Just sign here please sir/madam. By accepting we can't claim ignorance if we break the agreement. Is there any way of providing a short summary in plain English without compromising the agreement? It is rather important that we understand at least roughly what we're accepting and maybe it's time to press for simpler terms. This short summary can even have a note that full and legally binding conditions are contained in the legal version but that the summary gives a fair representation of those terms.

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