Have you ever read any of the terms of service documents you agree to when you sign up to your favorite web apps?
Of course you don’t. Those documents are tens, sometimes hundreds, of pages long. You sign away even your most basic of rights. They’re in legalise. Even if you could read them, it would take you all day! And you’d have to spend countless more hours just trying to understand the lawyer-talk in them!. And yet, they are REALLY important! Should any discrepancy between yourself and the other party be brought into a court of law, they will could potentially have a HUGE effect (monetary, or otherwise) on your life!
What if, instead of just blindly agreeing to a TOS document you haven’t read, you could just amend the TOS right there on the spot? Right there on the sign-up form.
Did you know that, when you’re signing a legal contract in the United States, you have the right to
strikeout any clause that you do not understand or do not agree to? [source] With the TOSAmend bookmarklet, you can also easily do this with web-based contracts and terms of services.
When you use the TOSAmend bookmarklet, it will modify the TOS on the page, and pass the amended terms back to the site (via the ‘TOSAmended’ GET or POST parameter), where the web-service can either accept or reject them.
Here’s a 30 second demo of this bookmarklet in action:
Full Disclaimer: I am an web app builder, not a lawyer, so I am unsure where using TOSAmend to amend terms of services would (or would not) hold up in court as a legally-permissible way of modifying a contract. I intend this as an experiment, proof of concept, and as a conversation starter about the relationship between and rights of applications and their users. I assume no responsibility for your use of this bookmarklet in the wild. Use at your own risk.
Here is the bookmarklet one more time. Drag it into your browser bar to use TOSAmend:
Cheers and have fun! For updates on this project, follow @TOSAmend on twitter, join our google group, or check out facebook.com/TOSAmend. Oh, and I’m @owocki on twitter. Happy to answer your questions there.
EDIT: This project is now hosted on a github public repo. Feel free to contribute.
EDIT 2: A debate has broken out on reddit about TOSAmend’s legal viability (in its current form) in the United States.
UPDATE 12/3/2011: I’ve released a legally viable version of TOSAmend. More details @ http://owocki.com/2011/12/03/occupytheweb-change-the-terms-of-online-agreements/
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