A new paper by a business professor and a contract law professor evaluated the terms and conditions of 500 leading websites and found that the 99% of them required at least 14 years of education to truly comprehend, far more than the majority of US adults have attained.
Read the rest “Most adults are incapable of understanding most online terms of service”
Not much detail on this patented houseplant and its terrifying license "agreement": redditor GooberMcNutly posted it a few hours ago and hasn't said anything else about it. Plants are patentable, and in theory patents reach into private conduct. Whatever the story, this is some primo late-stage capitalism right here.
Read the rest “Houseplant patent EULA: "Asexual reproduction using scions, buds or cutting is strictly prohibited"”
Propublica is one of many organizations, mainly nonprofits, whose "ad transparency" tools scrape Facebook ads and catalog them, along with the targeting data that exposes who is paying for which messages to be shown to whom.
Read the rest “Citing terms of service and "bad actors," Facebook locks out tools that catalog ads and ad targeting”
The latest episode of the always-outstanding Adam Ruins Everything (previously) is my favorite yet: a wide-ranging look at the way that tech has exploited policy loopholes to monopolize control over repairs, features, parts and consumables; to spy on users; to use predatory pricing to crush competitors; to avoid taxation; and to become a force for oligarchic control.
Read the rest “Adam Ruins Big Tech: how monopolies, DRM, EULAs, and predatory tactics have delivered our dystopian future”
The UK consumer review magazine Which? (equivalent to America's Consumer Reports) has published a special investigation into the ways that Internet of Things smart devices are spying on Britons at farcical levels, with the recommendation that people avoid smart devices where possible, to feed false data to smart devices you do own, and to turn off data-collection settings in devices' confusing, deeply hidden control panels.
Read the rest “UK consumer review magazine Which?: your smart home is spying on you, from your TV to your toothbrush”
Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have now both stated that they will no longer force victims of sexual assault into non-binding arbitration, as has been the practice of both firms until today. Read the rest “Uber and Lyft agree to stop forcing driver sexual assault victims into arbitration, confidentiality agreements”
"I Agree" is a Dima Yarovinsky's art installation for Visualizing Knowledge 2018, with printouts of the terms of service for common apps on scrolls of colored paper, creating a bar chart of the fine print that neither you, nor anyone else in the history of the world, has ever read.
Read the rest “"I Agree": Visualizing terms of service with long scrolls of colored paper”
Mark Zuckerberg says it doesn't matter how creepy and terrible his company is, because you agreed to let him comprehensively fuck you over from asshole to appetite by clicking "I agree" to a tens of thousands of words' worth of "agreements" spread out across multiple webpages; when questioned about this in Congress, Zuck grudgingly admitted that "I don’t think the average person likely reads that whole document." But as far as Zuck is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you've read it, whether you understand it, whether it can be understood -- you still "agreed."
Read the rest “The world is no longer willing to tolerate the plague of bullshit "agreements"”
ToS;dr is a crowdsourced database of website terms of service; install the associate plugin and your browser will display a letter grade (from A to F) for every site you visit, with subcategories for things like data-retention and the rights the site asserts to your contributions.
Read the rest “Terms of Service; Didn't Read: a browser add-on that warns you about the terrible fine-print you're about to "agree" to”
Back in 2016, the ACLU and First Look (the publishers of The Intercept) sued the US government to force it to clarify that the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- the overbroad statute passed during over a panic sparked by the movie "Wargames" -- does not prohibit violations of terms of service.
Read the rest “Federal court will allow the ACLU to keep suing for the right to violate terms of service for legitimate purposes”
This week, a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona, the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle; in his analysis of the event, Charlie Stross notes that Arizona's laws treat corporations that kill people with considerably more forbearance than humans who do so, and proposes that in the near future, every self-driving car will be owned by a special-purpose corporation that insulates its owner from liability.
Read the rest “The future legal shenanigans that will shift liability for pedestrian fatalities involving self-driving Ubers”
"Precision agriculture" is to farmers as Facebook is to publishers: farmers who want to compete can't afford to boycott the precision ag platforms fielded by the likes of John Deere, but once they're locked into the platforms' walled gardens, they are prisoners, and the platforms start to squeeze them for a bigger and bigger share of their profits.
Read the rest “Vendor lock-in, DRM, and crappy EULAs are turning America's independent farmers into tenant farmers”
Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are "connected," having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the "explicit consent" of the car owners -- who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print.
Read the rest “Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars”
A Ninth Circuit Appellate Court has rejected Oracle's attempt to treat violating its website terms of service as a felony under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,
Read the rest “Federal Appeals Court rules that violating a website's Terms of Service is not a crime”
Back in 2016, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation, a far-reaching set of rules to protect the personal information and privacy of Europeans that takes effect this coming May.
Read the rest “Complying with the new EU data protection directive requires a top-to-bottom redo of the adtech industry”
It's been 15 years since Sony used the DMCA to shut down the community that had sprung up to extend the functionality of its Aibo robot dogs, threatening people with lawsuits and jailtime for modifying their dogs' operating systems.
Read the rest “Sony's new robot dog doubles down on DRM”