Why is everyone updating their Terms of Service agreements?
It seems that everywhere I enter a login and password, I am seeing a notification their Terms of Service has been updated. Facebook started, then every other social platform and many other massive websites followed quickly. Why, all of a sudden, are these sites updating these agreements that no one ever seemed to pay attention to?
There are two reasons…
First, the European Union passed something called the General Data Protection Regulation (G.D.P.R) and it went into effect on May 25th. GDPR has been a hot topic among developers and digital strategists recently. While the GDPR only applies in the European Union, sites are using these regulations to make changes internationally.
What does GDPR require of companies?
- Organizations must notify all affected users as soon as possible if a data breach has occurred.
- Users are also allowed to obtain copies of all the data that a company keeps on them.
- Users may ask, under certain circumstances, that all their data be purged (the “right to be forgotten”)
- All user agreements must be presented in clear, plain language and not use unfair terminology.
Secondly, when Facebook and Cambridge Analytica were deposed about the recent data breach, both in the United States, and overseas, user agreements were a major point of discussion. In fact, Aleksandr Kogan, the developer of the Facebook app at the root of the breach admitted that he never read the FB Terms of Service. When he turned the table on the member of Parliament who was deposing him, he too admitted to using Facebook and not reading the Terms of Service.
The fact is that Terms of Service agreements have always been written in a way that the average person could not understand, using legal vernacular that has the best contract attorneys cautious. GDPR is a step in the right direction.