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This site is the personal page of Anthony J. Witkowski III. I am a recent graduate of Northeastern Law and the two projects are the result of two classes, Internet Law & Information Security Law, in the Fall Quarter of 2017. Please visit the About page for more recent work.

Did you read the Terms of Service?

For most of us, the answer to that question is a resounding no. Most of us simply click through to get to the content we crave or ignore the link to the Terms of Service all together. For Professor Andrea Matwyshyn's Internet Law class we we asked to bring transparency to an area of the law and/or aggregate data in a new and useful way. Each page has some commentary on the agreements covered but should not be construed as legal advice. 

 

Many websites have language that states that continued use of their site constitutes affirmative consent to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice, and any other agreement necessary. Courts have historically found these contracts enforceable as long as there is a reasonable opportunity to review the terms. Hiding the link to the Terms of Service at the bottom of the page won't suffice, but placing the link at the top of the page in large, plain text probably will. I've selected some key provisions of the top 50 most popular websites as measured by SimilarWeb. They use factors like average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate in their metrics. The list is as of 9.1.2017. Terms of Service are as of the date on each page.  The selections gathered on each page will hopefully help begin to answer the questions below but all of the agreements must be considered as a whole. Links to the full terms are included on each page because, after all, you agreed to them so its more important that you understand the contracts than understand what I noticed about them. You may find them surprisingly long! Still, the goal of the project was transparency, not telling you what to think. My only hope is that if more people start to notice these terms we can begin a dialogue about what we consider fair consideration in exchange for these services. Our data has value and how it is being used matters. The sections you will see excerpted on the site are as follows:

  • Representations & Warranties: What do they promise to do and what do they promise they have done?

  • Limitations on Liability: Are damages limited if the terms are violated?

  • Indemnification: Risk shifting provisions. Has risk shifted to you?

  • Key Definitions: Definitions matter!

  • Sharing Agreements: Who can get access to the data?

The chart below contains the page length for each full agreement I analyzed. The total number of pages was 1,898, no small feat for even the most efficient reader, let alone the average user. 

  • Total pages for all 50 websites: 1,898 pages

  • Average: 38 pages

  • Median: 24 pages

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