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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Tech World

This legislation could force Apple and others to make their terms of service actually readable

Extremely long terms of service that normal humans don’t read – but usually agree to – have been used by tech companies including Apple for decades. Lawmakers have now introduced a new bill to Congress that would require websites, app makers, and others to provide TL; The DR section (too long; not read) in “easy to understand language” to explain the terms as well as any “sensitive personal data they collect”.

It’s funny that the new TLDR law proposal is actually called a TLDR for “Label Terms of Service, Design and Read” but the job is really for tech companies to provide TL; DR Section of the Terms of Service and End User License Agreements.

According to The Hill report, the law was proposed in both the House and Senate with the latest version being introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Ben Ray Logan (DN.M.). The law is expected to find bipartisan support as it looks to protect consumers.

Congresswoman Lori Trahan — who sponsored the House version — shared an impressive statistic in a press release today. It would take a normal American 76 working days To read all the terms of service for the products used – this was based on a study conducted 10 years ago.

A 2012 study I found that it would take 76 business days for the average American to read the agreements for the technology companies they use. However, due to the complex language and length of many Terms of Service documents, the . file The overwhelming majorityof users “agree” without reading any part of the contract.

Trahan explained more about TLDR:

“For far too long, the terms of our Comprehensive Service Agreements have forced consumers to ‘agree’ to all of the company’s terms or lose access to the website or app altogether. Neither negotiation, nor alternative, nor A real choice.” “To make the decision even more in their favour, many companies design unnecessarily long and complex contracts, knowing that users do not have the bandwidth to read lengthy legal documents when they are simply trying to send a message to a loved one or make a quick purchase. The potential for abuse is clear, and some bad actors have chosen to exploit these agreements to extend their control over users’ personal data and protect themselves from liability. This is a problem that goes beyond political parties, and requires solutions like the TLDR Act that do the same by demanding transparency and returning power to consumers.”

Meanwhile, Senator Cassidy called the law “long overdue”:

“Users should not have to browse through the legal terminology pages in a website’s Terms of Services to learn how their data is being used,” Cassidy said. “Requiring companies to provide an easy-to-understand summary of their terms should be mandatory and is long overdue.”

You can find the full TLDR law proposal here.

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There’s a bit of irony here as Apple took the step in 2020 to require iOS app developers to provide “feed labels” for easy-to-understand app privacy that includes the data they collect, share, and more.

Apple came under some criticism for this when it wasn’t clear if it would stick to the same standard for pre-installed iOS apps.

We ended up publishing privacy stickers for all of our first-party apps, including a website dedicated to all of them a few months later.

Now TLDR has the potential to get Apple to do what it did for iOS apps to long ToS/EULAs for iOS, macOS, iCloud, etc.

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