Despite their importance, a majority of internet users just breeze through terms of service (TOS) agreements and click the accept button. For those that do read through them, the amount of legal jargon contained in them could be enough to make a non-lawyer's head spin. Unfortunately for us, accepting an application's TOS could mean giving up some rights we thought we had without even knowing.
Thanks to a new project called TOS;DR, whose name comes from the popular phrase TL;DR (too long;didn't read), the internet may finally become a little more clearer. The project hopes to empower users by giving them summaries of terms of service, highlighting potential issues and giving applications an overall rating from a scale of A to E.
Currently the worst rated app on the website, TwitPic, is rated with an E. TOS;DR states potential issues such as: "Deleted images are not really deleted", "You indemnify Twitpic from any claim related to your content" and "Twitpic takes credit for your content". This essentially means that TwitPic may take claim and credit for your uploaded photos at any point in time, without your permission or compensation. It could even mean selling a user's photos to the media without giving the photographer anything.
According to the TOS;DR project lead Hugo Roy, Wikipedia's short and concise summary of its TOS and its practice of soliciting feedback in regards to its terms should be the standard when it comes to TOS agreements. The TOS;DR project is still ongoing, but a number of widely used applications' TOS have already been summarized and rated. Head on over to tos-dr.info to see the ratings for yourself.
How thoroughly do you read TOS agreements before checking the accept box? Let us know in the comments below!