What the Tech: Terms of Service
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s the biggest lie on the internet: people saying they’ve read the terms of service agreements before installing an app or signing up for a service. An independent website run by volunteers are here to help.
“Terms of Service Didn’t Read” is a non-profit website that aims to “fix the biggest lie on the web”. Volunteers read the terms of popular websites and apps, cut through the legal talk, and post the information in an easy-to-understand list of privacy concerns. It’s the fine print for all to see.
Many of the things you see on its website can be expected. Most all free services such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and others can view your browsing history. Facebook, the volunteers found, can read your private messages and store your data whether you have an account or not. It also has the right to use your identity in marketing and advertising without your permission and without compensation. Of course, by signing up, you’ve already given Facebook permission to make you part of an ad campaign.
Other findings are a little surprising. The homework helper app Quizlet looks at your browsing history. You’ve given Pinterest, Roblox, Disney+, Fox News, and others to read your personal information. Dozens of apps and services have you waiving your “moral rights” before using their products, including Spotify and CNN. Even the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) requires your permission to track your actions with beacons and tracking pixels.
The “Terms of Service Didn’t Read” website volunteers update the site when these companies update their Terms of Service and Privacy Agreements. There’s also a browser extension that’ll automatically review terms when you’re asked to agree.
You’ll find the website at www.tosdr.org
Take a look, if you dare.