Managing terms of service when the only constant is change

Managing terms of service when the only constant is change 1024 565 Greer Hahn

Our previous post looked at the 3 important ways we’re redefining the terms of service experience for the better. The first way dealt with our understanding of what all that legal jargon really means to us. This post looks at the second way: how you can stay informed when terms are constantly updated.

It’s helpful to remember that terms of service agreements are written with the need for future flexibility in mind. This ensures the service, app or website provider can react in their best interest to events or other changes without being restricted by their own existing terms.

These events could include a merger between two companies, or a change in commercial strategy (where there is a new need to monetise data or share it with new partners). Sometimes triggers for change can stem from the technology itself – new functionality for instance, or integration with other platforms, products or infrastructure. Other events may be a reaction to new regulation or legislation.

Behind the scenes, these types of changes are going on all the time. And tech companies only have to focus on their OWN terms of service changes; we digital citizens have to focus on ALL the changes from ALL the tech companies that we interact with! So how are we mere mortals supposed to keep up when the odds of doing so are so clearly stacked against us?

Here’s what we’ve done to improve the management of your online terms of service agreements when they change:

  • When new terms are released, we decipher them according to the process mentioned in our last post so we all understand what these changes actually mean
  • We update the CitizenMe app using our traffic light code. (For example, if your CitizenMe Facebook bubble turns red, amber or green, you’ll know immediately a new change has happened and needs your attention.)
  • Tap the coloured bubble to explore the change and find out what it means to your rights
  • For really big changes we’ll also send a CitizenMe advisory out via our social network channels to give everyone a quick heads up

In our next post we’ll share what you can do with all this new-found transparency and timeliness to take action against terms you don’t agree with.

If you and your friends want to be amongst the first to try out these new features, sign up for an invitation to our prelaunch iOS app.

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

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