Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA3), Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) today introduced the Terms-of-service Labeling, Design and Readability (TLDR) Act. The proposed legislation was first reported in The Washington Post. An announcement says the proposed language is “bipartisan and bicameral legislation requiring that online companies make their terms of service contracts more accessible, transparent, and understandable for consumers.”tldr_act
The provisions of the Act include requirements that tech firms inform users how data is collected and used; disclose what liabilities the user may have; and provide standardized and comparable terms of service statements across different applications. It seeks to facilitate oversight of terms of service including by authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to treat violations of terms as an unfair or deceptive practice, and to permit state Attorneys General to bring civil actions in the case of violations that cross a threshold of 1,000 users.
It would take *76* work days for the average American to read the terms of service contracts for the websites & apps they use. Companies designed them that way so users "agree" without reading a word.— Congresswoman Lori Trahan (@RepLoriTrahan) January 13, 2022
I introduced the TLDR Act with @SenBillCassidy & @SenatorLujan to change that. https://t.co/wVvw2SHvCR
The legislation would also require firms to disclose data breaches. According to Ranking Digital Rights, a nonprofit that tracks tech firms and their commitments to digital rights, very few companies currently disclose breaches.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.