Keeping Track of Service Agreements

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has recently launched TOSBack.org, a site for keeping track of what has changed and when for the Terms of Service (TOS) agreements of major websites.

 

As previously discussed, a company should not necessarily rely on implementing a change to its Terms of Service contract by simply posting the revised contract on its website; the other party to the contract, the customer, needs to be aware of the change. This principle applies even if the company puts a statement in its Terms of Service agreement warning the customer that the agreement will be changed without notice. As Eric Goldman points out on his Technology & Marketing Law blog, stating that the Terms of Service agreement can effectively be changed at any time without notice, could render the entire agreement unenforceable.

 

Currently, as EFF suggests, customers may not be aware of how many times agreements change. As shown on TOBSback.org, Sprint, for example, has changed its PCS Terms & Conditions policy 29 times since tracking began at the end of 2003. Of course there is much conjecture about how many people read their TOS agreements in the first place, but the earlier Facebook debacle over its ownership of user content does seem to demonstrate that users do care about agreement changes, once they figure out what’s going on.