TLDR bill could make website terms of use easier to understand

Democratic and Republican lawmakers are backing a proposed “TLDR law” that aims to simplify overly complicated terms of service on websites.

It also aims to force companies to reduce the burden placed on consumers to read and agree to complicated statements about how their data will be used.

The Terms of Service Labeling, Design, and Legibility Act or the “TLDR Act” would require websites to offer a summary statement of their Terms of Service (ToS). TLDR refers to the popular acronym “too long, didn’t read”.

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This summary statement should be easy to understand, quick to read, and include all reportable data breaches that have been disclosed within the past three years. The TLDR version should include the statement’s word count and estimated reading time, the categories of sensitive information handled by the website, and a summary of a user’s legal responsibilities and disclaimers. Sensitive information includes health, biometric and location data.

The law would be enforced by state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission.

The bipartisan bill is being proposed in both houses with the Senate version presented by Republican Senator Bill Cassidy and Democratic Senator Ben Ray Luján.

“For too long, blanket terms of service agreements have forced consumers to either ‘accept’ all of a company’s terms or lose access to a website or app altogether. No negotiation, no alternative and no real choice,” the Democrat MP said. Trahan, a key sponsor of the House of Representatives version of the bill.

“Users shouldn’t have to wade through pages of legalese in a website’s terms of service to find out how their data will be used,” Cassidy said.

“Requiring companies to provide an easy-to-understand summary of their terms should be mandatory and is long overdue.”

Small businesses would be exempt from the proposed TLDR rules, suggesting they target large companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

“Consumers deserve to be able to make informed decisions online for themselves and their families,” said Senator Luján.

The European Commission forced Facebook to change its terms of service in 2019 following the Cambridge Analytica scandal to clarify that it made money by selling targeted ads.

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