Before we get to the TLDR Act and how that’d affect Apple, tell me something honestly: Have you ever in your life attempted to read the snooze-inducing harbingers of nightmares that websites and companies call terms of service, forcing you to press “I agree” before you could even so much as send a message or click a picture?
The TLDR Act
You can’t blame people, of course. Terms of service are boring, full of jargon, and there’s very little users can do aside from, well, declining to use services. Not entirely practical or convenient in a digital world. And companies, as you’d expect, exploit this little fact to their hearts’ content. That’s why we thought you’d find it interesting that a recently-proposed US bill demands companies make a TL;DR section on their terms of service.
To be clear, TLDR here stands for “Terms-of-service Labeling, Design and Readability”, not “Too Long; Didn’t Read”. The idea behind it, however, is pretty much the same.
The bill proposes requiring companies to summarise their terms of service, detailing the information they collect, use, and share, any legal liabilities, changes to the ToS, recent data breaches, and more. It’s kind of similar to the app privacy labels Apple’s enforced in the App Store, where developers have to disclose what data they’re collecting.
That’s a Good Thing, Right?
Well, it’s a step. If the US passes a law like this one, it’ll apply to a huge portion of companies and services that we use today despite living on the other end of the world. Will it actually make the largely apathetic and unconcerned people of the internet read the terms they’re agreeing to? That’s neither here nor there.
For one, I’m not sure how easy it’ll be to summarise the mammoth of text that make up the terms of service. Just have a look at Apple’s, for example. The summary might not be very short at all, even if it’s written to be more readable.
Additionally, the act only talks about terms of service and not privacy policies, which directly concern data collection and sharing.
Well, either way, more scrutiny on companies to be more accountable to their users can only be a good thing, in my opinion. Until we get enough of it, we have websites like ToS;DR, which outline the terms people must agree to when signing up for specific services. What are your thoughts on the TLDR Act? Do you think it’ll pass and make companies like Apple finally make terms of services more readable?