Uber and Lyft agree to stop forcing driver sexual assault victims into arbitration, confidentiality agreements

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

"I Agree": Visualizing terms of service with long scrolls of colored paper

"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

The world is no longer willing to tolerate the plague of bullshit "agreements"

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

Terms of Service; Didn't Read: a browser add-on that warns you about the terrible fine-print you're about to "agree" to

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

Federal court will allow the ACLU to keep suing for the right to violate terms of service for legitimate purposes

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

The future legal shenanigans that will shift liability for pedestrian fatalities involving self-driving Ubers

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

Vendor lock-in, DRM, and crappy EULAs are turning America's independent farmers into tenant farmers

"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

Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

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

Federal Appeals Court rules that violating a website's Terms of Service is not a crime

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

Complying with the new EU data protection directive requires a top-to-bottom redo of the adtech industry

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

Gated community developer blames Rand Paul assault on longstanding fights over lawncare, tree branches

Last week, Senator Rand Paul was severely injured after an alleged assault by his neighbor, anesthesiologist/inventor Rene Boucher, who worked with Paul at a local hospital. Read the rest

Sony's new robot dog doubles down on DRM

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

How to opt out of Equifax's rights-stripping arbitration clause

During the five weeks after hackers stole 143 million Americans' data from Equifax, and while its execs were selling off their stock by the millions, the company sprang into action, producing an insecure site for checking whether your own data was breached that produces the same output no matter what name and SSN you input. Read the rest

How DRM and EULAs make us into "digital serfs"

Washington and Lee law professor Joshua Fairfield is the author of a recent book called Owned: Property, Privacy, and the New Digital Serfdom, which takes up the argument that DRM and license agreements mean that we have no real property rights anymore, just a kind of feudal tenancy in which distant aristocrats (corporations) dictate how we may and may not use the things we "buy," backed by the power of the state to fine or jail us if we fail to arrange our affairs to the company's shareholders. Read the rest

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

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