Business owners: do you think your customers read your website's Terms of Use? Probably not. However, you probably want your customers to read it. Afterall, the Terms of Use sets out the backbone of your legal relationship with your website's visitors.

Throughout the years, Terms of Use have become so long and so technical that people don't quite understand what they're agreeing to. This then leads to consumer protection implications because people should know what they're agreeing to and should not have to read a long legal dissertation whenever they wish to visit a website.

The proposed TLDR Act

In an effort to fix this issue, a group of US lawmakers recently introduced the "Terms-of-service Labeling, Design and Readability (TLDR) Act." This Act forces certain companies to publish a summary of the Terms of Use. This summary is supposed to:

(1) be easy to understand, disclose how long the terms of use is, and discuss historical versions of the Terms of Use and explain how it has changed;

(2) disclose whether and what kinds of sensitive information is required for processing;

(3) discuss how the visitor's legal rights are impacted and whether the visitor has any legal obligations;

(4) explain how a user may request the deletion or discontinuation of the use of sensitive data (if provided);

(5) provide a list of data breaches from the previous 3 years that were reported to consumers under federal and state laws; and,

(6) anything else deemed necessary by the Federal Trade Commission.

For end users, there's also a project named "ToS;DR" that ranks and provides summaries of the Terms of Use of popular websites. This is useful for the majority of individuals who do not have the time to read the Terms of Use of each webpage they decide to visit. Check out the project here for more information.

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