Thursday, June 4, 2009

EFF Launches TOSBack - A 'Terms of Service' Tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and More

Via EFF Deeplinks -

"Terms of Service" policies on websites define how Internet businesses interact with you and use your personal information. But most web users don't read these policies -- or understand that the terms are constantly changing. To track these ever-evolving documents, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching "TOSBack": a "terms of service" tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and other major websites.

"Terms of service form the foundation of your relationship with social networking sites, online businesses, and other Internet communities, but most people become aware of these terms only when there's a problem," said EFF Activism and Technology Manager Tim Jones. "We created TOSBack to help consumers monitor terms of service for the websites they use everyday, and show how the terms change over time."

At, you can see a real-time feed of changes and updates to more than three dozen polices from the Internet's most popular online services. Clicking on an update brings you to a side-by-side before-and-after comparison, highlighting what has been removed from the policy and what has been added.

The issue of terms-of-service changes -- and how and why they are made -- was highlighted earlier this year when Facebook modified its terms of use. Facebook users worried that the change gave the company the right to use members' content indefinitely. After a user revolt, Facebook announced that it would restore the former terms while it worked through the concerns users had raised.

"Some changes to terms of service are good for consumers, and some are bad," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "But Internet users are increasingly trusting websites with everything from their photos to their 'friends lists' to their calendar -- and sometimes even their medical information. TOSBack will help consumers flag changes in the websites they use every day and trust with their personal information."

For TOSBack:


Tim Jones
Activism and Technology Manager
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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