Posted by on January 14, 2022 4:09 pm
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New ‘TLDR’ bill would make long ‘terms and conditions’ a relic of the past

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New ‘TLDR’ bill would make long ‘terms and conditions’ a relic of the past

Nihal Krishan January 14, 03:51 PMJanuary 14, 03:55 PM

Long and complicated terms of service that users must agree to for most websites and online services would be banned under a new bill introduced in the House.

The Terms-of-Service Labeling, Design, and Readability (or TLDR) Act, introduced Thursday by Democratic Rep. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, would require all major businesses to create a simple and short summary of their terms of service page, thereby making it easy to comprehend for the average consumer. “TLDR” is online slang for “too long; didn’t read.”

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The bill would grant the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general the power to fine companies that violate the legislation’s statutes.

“For far too long, blanket terms of service agreements have forced consumers to either ‘agree’ to all of a company’s conditions or lose access to a website or app entirely. No negotiation, no alternative, and no real choice,” said Trahan, a member of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

“The potential for abuse is obvious, and some bad actors have chosen to exploit these agreements to expand their control over users’ personal data and shield themselves from liability,” she added.

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The bill would require that a business’s simplified version of its terms of service explain the type of consumer data that is collected on a website and include any details about whether or why that user data is needed in the first place. Businesses will also be asked to provide visuals of how user data is shared with third parties and any legal liabilities that users could face from using the website. They would also be required to inform users about how they can delete the personal data collected about them on a website.

A 2012 study cited by Trahan found that it would take 76 working days for the average person to read the terms and agreements for technology companies they use.

However, because of the complicated language and length of many terms of service documents, an overwhelming majority of online users click “Agree” without reading any portion of the contract.

Trahan is trying to get bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, and a similar bill was also introduced this week in the Senate by Sens. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, and Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat from New Mexico.

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“Users should not have to comb through pages of legal jargon in a website’s terms of services to know how their data will be used,” said Cassidy. “Requiring companies to provide an easy-to-understand summary of their terms should be mandatory and is long overdue.”

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Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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