TOSback: Keeping tabs on the Web’s fine print

Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Among the most frustrating things about online services and Internet companies are the "terms of service" policies governing how the businessses interact with you and use your personal information.

    Internet companies claim users give informed consent. Instead the policies are usually written in dense legalese, are often not seen by Web users and are changed frequently by the companies without notification.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is doing something to fight back. They’ve just announced the launch of a terms of service tracker called TOSBack to monitor changes in policy on the Internet’s biggest Websites.

    "At, you can see a real-time feed of changes and updates to more than three dozen polices from the Internet’s most popular online services. Clicking on an update brings you to a side-by-side before-and-after comparison, highlighting what has been removed from the policy and what has been added," EFF said in the announcement.

    EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann explains:

    "Some changes to terms of service are good for consumers, and some are bad. But Internet users are increasingly trusting websites with everything from their photos to their ‘friends lists’ to their calendar — and sometimes even their medical information. TOSBack will help consumers flag changes in the websites they use every day and trust with their personal information."

    It should help consumers control what’s done with their data.


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