Congress Proposes Law Requiring Companies to State Terms of Service in Plain Language

In the context: How many ToS, EULAs, and privacy statements have you read? All of them? No one? Statistically speaking, it is most likely that you agree to numerous contracts that you come across on the Internet without reading a word of any of them. Although TS readers are most often in the 10th percentile, 91 percent of average consumers do not read online service agreements.

Congress has proposed legislation that requires online companies to post summaries of their terms of service (ToS) agreements on their websites. The bipartisan bill is called the Terms of Service, Labeling, Design, and Readability Act. TLDR Law. He is sponsored by Representative Lori Trahan, Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator Ben Ray Luhan.

Trahan says the proposed legislation will make it easier for consumers to evaluate the terms of legally binding agreements for the websites and services they use. Poll 2017 showed that 91 percent of consumers agree to enter into service contracts without reading them because they are too long and filled with legal jargon. Indeed, another study from 2008 disclosed that it will take an average of 76 business days to become familiar with all the Terms of Use and other legal documents that they agree to when doing business online.

“Users don’t have to scroll through pages of legal jargon in a website’s terms of use to find out how their data will be used,” said Senator Cassidy. “The requirement for companies to provide an easy-to-understand summary of their terms and conditions should be mandatory and long overdue.”

Consolidated statements will provide consumers with transparency regarding data collection, including the types of data collected and how it is used or shared. It also provides information on whether users can delete their personal information and how to do so. Another important detail that the summary should provide is whether the contract requires the user to waive legal rights to their content or legal remedies such as arbitration or class action.

“Consumers deserve to be able to make informed decisions online for themselves and their families,” said Senator Lujan. “Instead of informing, too many companies use long and complicated terms of service agreements to hide important details of their data policies and protect themselves from legal liability.”

The law also requires the summary statement and ToS to be machine-readable and use markup languages ​​such as XML so that researchers and other third parties can easily parse them for accountability. The Federal Trade Commission will be the primary law enforcement agency. However, state attorneys general can sue companies in U.S. District Court if they find that the firm has violated the law in their states.

“Some attackers have chosen to use these agreements to expand their control over users’ personal data and protect themselves from liability,” a spokesman for Trahan said. “This is a problem that goes beyond political parties and it requires solutions like the TLDR Act that do the same thing by demanding transparency and giving power back to consumers.”

Lawmakers didn’t have a firm timetable for when the bill would be presented to the House and Senate, but the laws say it could be some time before the TLDR law could be passed.

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