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14 January 2022
Proposal to TL;DR terms of service isn't a bad idea
GDPR & privacy lawUnited States
Terms of service are mostly ignored as we go straight for the ‘agree’ button, leaving many people with no actual idea what they’re agreeing to – now, a group of US politicians are proposing a brevity law, an idea that some brands might want to get ahead of.
Why it matters
Whether or not the law passes, brands have the opportunity to build trust by stating extremely clearly what data they are collecting. Getting in early looks better than being forced to submit, kicking and screaming.
As online privacy continues to trouble lawmakers, activists, and increasingly users, efforts to make sure people know what they’re consenting to have crept up in certain pieces of legislation around the world. Europe’s GDPR, for instance, stipulated explicit and informed consent, but differing interpretations between nations and companies mean there is little consensus on the best way of doing this.
Now, the Washington Post reports, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers are proposing a TLDR (Too long; didn’t read) act to stipulate that sites provide users with an easy-to-understand summary of what they are collecting, and whether they have suffered any recent data breaches.
Deeply influenced by recent whistle-blower revelations around Meta’s Facebook, the proposal specifically looks to social media’s use of data.
In this case, it’s unclear how transparent you can be in summary, given that ‘we will use your data for ad targeting’ doesn’t actually explain anything new.
“Users should not have to comb through pages of legal jargon in a website’s terms of services to know how their data will be used.
“Requiring companies to provide an easy-to-understand summary of their terms should be mandatory and is long overdue” – Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.)