When was the last time you read a website’s terms of service agreement, let alone understand it?
If the new bill gains momentum, if you happen to be there – intentionally or accidentally by clicking – you will at least have a chance to understand what it all means.
Legislation proposed by Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts) and Senators Ben Ray Luhan (D-Massachusetts) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) will make legal agreements more accessible so that users know that the information that web sites collect websites and applications, and how it is used.
“TLDR Law” is a tribute to the Internet shorthand for “too long; didn’t read” would require Internet companies to include “concise terms of service” on top of the page and standardize the information in the agreement.
This may include a breakdown of the “sensitive information” the company collects, a flowchart showing how this information is shared with the corporation’s affiliates and third parties, instructions on how users can request deletion of their information (if the company offers this service) and a list of company data breaches from the previous three years.
In practice, it might look something like this:
“It takes *76* business days for the average American to read the terms of service contracts for the websites and apps they use,” Trahan. said in the announcement of the bill. “Companies have designed them in such a way that users “agree” without reading a word. I introduced the TLDR Act with Senators Bill Cassidy and Ben Ray Luhan to change that.”
The proposal comes amid a broader push for regulation by the Silicon Valley giants, including antitrust and data privacy laws.
Trahan told the Washington Post that Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen owes a lot to this momentum. A former Facebook employee gave damning testimony about the many harms of social media, backed up by Facebook’s own internal research.
“Of course, this bill does not compensate for all kinds of harm caused by Internet companies,” Trahan said in an interview with the Post.
“But this law touches on an important issue that affects every American, which is that terms of service are unreadable, and it tips the scales of power solely in favor of companies.”