3 ways we’re improving the terms of service experience for everyone

3 ways we’re improving the terms of service experience for everyone 1024 565 Greer Hahn

In last week’s post we invited you to sign up for our preview iOS app. We told you that you can expect more visibility and insight about what terms of service REALLY mean, and why it’s time our understanding of them took a giant leap forward.

Every day millions of us journey around the web from site to site, sign up for online services or download the latest apps, all the while giving less than a moment’s thought before clicking the ‘I agree’ button to the terms of service, or ‘I accept cookies’ notice. With each click, we sign a binding digital contract that we have not even read, much less understood.

Unfortunately, terms of service agreements are long, boring and often baffling. Reading them is a tedious, joyless pursuit, and for the majority of us who aren’t legally trained, trying to understand them amounts to little more than our best guess. What’s more, there’s just so many of them. And they’re frequently changing, which means keeping up to date is far from easy. Faced with all this potential hassle, it’s no surprise we opt for convenience by choosing instead to simply click our acceptance. After all, we’re busy people with things to do, and ultimately, we just want stuff now – the site, the app or the online service.

The trouble with such a consequences be damned approach, is that when it comes to terms of service, they very well could be (and we just wouldn’t know it or have any power to fight it.) Terms of service agreements are important because they impact our ownership and rights over the use, behaviours and data we contribute to the web every day.

Let’s set the scene with an example: you know those images you share using Twitpic? They’re not yours anymore. All the images you think you deleted? Not really deleted. Oh, you have a problem with that?  Too bad, you’ve already indemnified Twitpic from any claim you may make related to ‘your’ content. This all happened when you agreed to the terms of service. And it’s not just Twitpic. Want to delete your YouTube account but not your Google account? Tough luck. Worried about Skype using your calls, texts or video sessions for unknown future purposes? You should be, they can – and guess what, you’ve already agreed to it.

Regardless of whether this information leaves you enraged or completely unfazed, you have a right to know what you signed up for. We all do.

CitizenMe is redefining the terms of service experience.

We’ve worked with some of the best legal partners who have taken the actual terms of service agreements of all the sites, apps and online services that you love and use everyday, and have translated them into useful information.

You can expect terms of service to be easy in the following ways:

  1. Access and understand
  2. Keep up to date with
  3. Take action against if you want to

Here’s what we’ve done to improve the understanding of online terms of service agreements:

  • Focus only on what’s important (what impacts your rights and ownership)
  • Summarise and translate this into everyday language
  • Create an at-a-glance traffic light system so you know potentially how positively or negatively those terms impact your rights. (We love this feature as it shows which companies have your best interests at heart and how)
  • Provide deep links so if you want to check out the original sections of the agreement, it’s just a click away – no hunting and fishing required
  • In our next post we’ll share what we’ve done to help you stay informed about changes to the terms that impact you.

If all this sounds like a change for the better, be sure to sign up for an invitation to our prelaunch iOS app where you’ll be able to check out these features for yourself.

Photo credit: opensource.com – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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