Roomba wants to sell the maps of the inside of your home it created while cleaning

Your Roomba vacuum cleaner collects data about the size and geometry of your home as it cleans and transmits that data back to Irobot, Roomba's parent company -- and now the company says it wants to sell that data to companies like Apple and Google. Read the rest

New media noncompetes are destroying the careers of young journalists

When Stephanie Russell-Kraft signed up to work for Law360, she naively entered into a probably unenforceable noncompete "agreement" that asserted that by looking at court filings for interesting news stories, she'd be privy to "critical and sensitive proprietary information" -- but she didn't really think about it until Law360 used her signature on the agreement to get her fired from her second industry job, with Reuters, costing her a generous compensation package that included overtime and health insurance. Read the rest

Trump administration allows nursing homes to force abused seniors into binding arbitration

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services barred nursing homes from forcing their residents into accepting binding arbitration agreements that would move all legal claims into business-friendly fake courts where the proceedings are often secret, and where the presiding fake judges draw their pay from the companies that are accused of malfeasance. Read the rest

Juvenile criminal defense attorneys forced to agree to Taser's terms of service to see the state's evidence

California criminal defense attorney Rick Horowitz had a juvenile client, he was shocked when the prosecutor in the case told him that to see the evidence against his client, he'd have to log in to evidence.com, run by Taser International (now rebranded as Axon). Read the rest

20 years ago, Ted Cruz published a law paper proving companies could always beat customers with terms of service

You might think that when companies impose crappy, abusive terms of service on their customers that the market could sort it out, by creating competition to see who could offer the best terms and thus win the business of people fed up with bad actors. Read the rest

Desperate John Deere tractor owners are downloading illegal Ukrainian firmware hacks to get the crops in

John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually "license" them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors' software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications. Read the rest

How license "agreements" interfere with the right to repair

States across America are considering "Right to Repair" legislation that would guarantee your right to choose who fixes your stuff (or to fix it yourself); but they're fighting stiff headwinds, from the motorcycle makers who claim that fixing your motorcycle should be a crime to Apple, who feel the same way, but about phones. Read the rest

Terms and Conditions: the bloviating cruft of the iTunes EULA combined with extraordinary comic book mashups

Back in 2015, cartoonist Robert Sikoryak started publishing single pages from his upcoming graphic novel Terms and Conditions, in which he would recount every word of the current Apple iTunes Terms and Conditions as a series of mashup pages from various comics old and new, in which Steve Jobsean characters stalked across the panels, declaiming the weird, stilted legalese that "everyone agrees to and no one reads."

Wells Fargo: preventing the customers we ripped off from suing us is doing them a favor

Wells Fargo admits that its employees opened more than 2,000,000 fake accounts in order to run up fraudulent charges against its customers (employees who balked at committing fraud were fired and blacklisted for life from the banking industry); it also says that the customers it stole from can't sue the company because fake account paperwork bearing their forged signatures includes a promise to enter into binding arbitration rather than suing. Read the rest

Congress reintroduces YODA, a bipartisan bill that protects your right to treat devices as your property

The You Own Devices Act (YODA) was first introduced by Reps Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Jared "Happy Mutant" Polis (D-CO) in 2014: it's a bill that limits the enforceability of abusive EULA terms, preserving your right to sell, lease, donate, and access security fixes on devices you buy, even when they have copyrighted software within them. Read the rest

Inside this Star Wars blanket's box, a card informing you that you've just waived your right to sue

When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest

Company tells disgruntled customer that he will not receive support unless he removes a negative review, then threatens to sue him

After N2SUB posted a thoughtful, negative review of Ham Radio Deluxe, the company responded to his open trouble ticket with instructions that tricked him into bricking his software, caused his software to stop working in the guise of fixing his problem, then told him they'd done it on purpose, sent him a note implying it had been deliberate and stating he wouldn't be welcome to use their software anymore unless he deleted his review, and threatened to sue him. Read the rest

The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

Donald Trump weaponized fine-print to make it impossible to sue Wall Street for fraud

In 1993, Donald Trump won a lawsuit brought by his investors that alleged he had defrauded them by lying in a prospectus; his defense was that his "perfect prospectus" contained lies, but it also contained enough fine-print cautioning investors about the possibility of lies that it was their own fault that he cheated them. Incredibly, the judge (a pre-Supreme Court Samuel Alito!) bought this. Read the rest

Why are license "agreements" so uniformly terrible?

An excerpt from The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, by Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, coming this Friday from MIT Press.

Al Franken and FCC commissioner Clyburn want limits on forced arbitration

Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding "binding arbitration" clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins. Read the rest

The privacy wars have been a disaster and they're about to get a LOT worse

In my latest Locus column, The Privacy Wars Are About to Get A Whole Lot Worse, I describe the history of the privacy wars to date, and the way that the fiction of "notice and consent" has provided cover for a reckless, deadly form of viral surveillance capitalism. Read the rest

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