[conspire] terms of service, illustrated

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Aug 29 14:23:48 PDT 2011

Quoting Tony Godshall (tony at of.net):

> 1. I apologize for poorly configuring google+.

Given that you're also a Facebook user, one would think you'd be a bit
wary of such functions.  Still, neither so far is as pestiferous as

> > ...agreeing with its terms of service, and (legally speaking) agreeing to
> > be Google, Inc.'s customer, thus consenting to them and their business ...
> > partners spamming and data-mining me.  Sorry, I don't do Web 2.0 cults,
> > especially those run by DoubleClick's corporate parent.

> 2. Thanks for pointing out the terms of service issue.  Looking into
> this, I did find this amusing comic book version from PBS:
> http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/07/google-terms-of-service-illustrated202.html

That's amusing, but it's not even _primarily_ a matter of 'terms of
service', though those alleged contracts do sometime alert one to
particular vendor misbehaviour that is likely:  For example, if Kindle 
users had attentively read Amazon.com's terms of service, the 2009
scandal where they retroactively erased not only all customer-purchased
copies of two Orwell e-books but also independent customer notes and
annotations those books, they wouldn't have been taken by surprise.

However, no, in this case, I'm not talking about the particular clauses
of Google+'s terms of service -- even with the far more problematic
Legal Notices, Universal Terms, and Additional Terms that are
incorporated by reference but not discussed by Ryan Estrada's lazy-ass
infographics gag page.  I'm talking about something a lot more fundamental:  

Whenever you sign up for, and use, a customer-specific login with a Web
2.0 company, you become regarded in a legal sense having entered an
'established business relationship' with that company, which gives the
company -- _and_ also any and all business associates, business
partners, and contractors (whom Google refers to as 'subsidiaries and
affiliated legal entities around the world ('Subsidiaries and
Affiliates")' -- by statute legal rights to 'contact' (i.e., spam or
marketing-call) you, to compile detailed personal information about you,
and to sell that information to others.

Moreover, it is an unusually one-sided 'established business
relationship' in which the Web 2.0 company has extremely
minimal-to-nonexistent obligations of fair dealing and due diligence
towards its customers, because they are not paying for it.  (I'm not
sure that point's been adjudicated, but think at minimum the writing's
on the wall.)

The 'established business relationship' matter enters law in a lot of
little ways, including junk fax, the CAN-SPAM Act and other antispam
litigation, the Nationwide Do Not Call List, and debt collection
regulations.  People seem to forget that your right of privacy, your
right not to be bothered, your right not to be spied on / data-mined /
marketed to death is slim-to-none concerning any firm you're judged to
be doing business with.  And computer users seem _extremely_ slow to get
that message, and realise that Web 2.0 / SaaS / social-networking /
ad-supported hosted-services companies offer the very worst sort of deal
in this department.

As an aside, Estrada's parody ignores completely the most if-fy clauses of
the Google+ TOS, not to mention literally 100% of the Legal Notices,
Universal Terms, and Additional Terms.  His comments are excellent about
the clauses he does address, though.

> Yeah, there is that.  Have you read Scroogled?  Did you enjoy?

Sure I read it.  I'm slowly catching up on all of Cory's output.  Not

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