EFF Launches Terms Of Service Tracker

    June 4, 2009

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a "terms of service" tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and other popular websites.

The goal of the EFF’s "TOSBacK" is to give users a real-time feed of changes and updates to more than three-dozen policies from the Internet’s most popular online services. Clicking on an update displays a side-by-side before-and-after comparison on what has been added and removed from the policy.

TOSBack Logo

"Terms of service form the foundation of your relationship with social networking sites, online businesses, and other Internet communities, but most people become aware of these terms only when there’s a problem," said EFF Activism and Technology Manager Tim Jones.

"We created TOSBack to help consumers monitor terms of service for the websites they use everyday, and show how the terms change over time."

Fred von Lohmann
Fred von Lohmann

The issue of terms-of-service changes surfaced earlier this year when Facebook revised its terms of use. Some Facebook users were concerned that the change gave the popular social network the right to use members’ content indefinitely. After users complained, Facebook said it would revert to its former terms while it worked through the concerns of its users.

"Some changes to terms of service are good for consumers, and some are bad," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann.

"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."