First comment; about "blank contracts"

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Marcos Marado

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Nov 6, 2012, 7:02:54 AM11/6/12
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Hi there,

I've just knew about TOS;DR via FSFE's newsletter, and I have to say to you:
thanks for existing!

I'm an (unfortunately unusual) reader of TOS's, frequently contacting the
owners of the services asking them to change this or that bit, and explaining
to them why I don't feel safe signing their TOS's with those clauses.

One thing that jumped to my attention on your website is that you classify
some things as "red cross" while others are just "thumbs down". While I agree
with that distinction, I would like to discuss with you what makes you choose
between a "thumbs down" and a "red cross" for a certain type of clause in a
TOS.

One particular clause, unfortunately frequent, in TOS's is "Terms may be
changed any time at their discretion, without notice to the user". You seem to
classify that as "thumbs down", and this mail is my attempt to convince you
that it should be a "red cross". Accepting such a clause - at least some
wordings of it, when it states something like "you're bound to the latest
version of the TOS of this service" - means you're in fact signing a blank
contract: a contract where the other part - the service - can write whatever
it wants *after* you sign, and you're bound to it. *That* should be a red
cross: at any time the service can change the complete terms of services to
"red crosses items", and you've accepting it without knowing...

A practical example: Yahoo! doesn't have any red crosses, but it has a "Terms
may be changed any time at their discretion, without notice to the user" item.
Which in practical terms means that tomorrow, their terms can be something
like:
* All your content is (c) Yahoo!
* We won't inform Government requests
* We can suspend your account whenever we want for whatever reason we want,
without any kind of explanation
* No pseudonyms allowed
* You cannot delete your account
* Deleted content isn't really deleted

Or, in other words, that clause only implies you're automaticly and without
knowing signing - possibly, if that's the service's will - an "all red
crosses" Class E TOS...

Do you agree?

Best regards,
--
Marcos Marado

Hugo Roy

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May 7, 2013, 5:12:34 PM5/7/13
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Hi Marcos,

I agree this kind of clause is very problematic, but I guess it's not a blocker for signing up to/using a service. Fortunately, when Tosback is ready we will be able to do notifications anyway.

Thanks for your email

Best,
Hugo
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