If you're connected to Xbox Live, then today you'll enjoy an update to the Xbox 360 dashboard. Generally, Microsoft will make some cosmetic changes and perhaps add new features or menus to try and make the interface more accessible and interesting. With their latest update, they've instead decided to make things a tad more difficult for people and mess with their judicial rights.
Oh that Microsoft.
First things first, one small but head scratching change looks to be a switch in controls for looking up game details and ejecting a disc. What was once "X" to eject and "Y" to look at details is now switched in the latest update. One upset 360 user couldn't have summed it up any better.
While the change above is something noticeable and will affect a large amount of people, the second change is something which will go unnoticed by many but is actually pretty scary. In order to download the update, you must accept a new Terms of Service (ToS) agreement. Usually, ToS's are ignored by everyone because who wants to read through a bunch of law jargon, when they just want to play Gears of War?
However, in the latest ToS, Microsoft added this nifty little clause which is very eye-opening. If you don't want to read all of it, I'll summarize afterwards:
IF YOU LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES, YOU AND MICROSOFT AGREE THAT IF YOU AND MICROSOFT DO NOT RESOLVE ANY DISPUTE BY INFORMAL NEGOTIATION UNDER SECTION 18.1.2 ABOVE, ANY EFFORT TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE WILL BE CONDUCTED EXCLUSIVELY BY BINDING ARBITRATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ARBITRATION PROCEDURES IN SECTION 18.1.7 BELOW. YOU UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BY AGREEING TO BINDING ARBITRATION, YOU ARE GIVING UP THE RIGHT TO LITIGATE (OR PARTICIPATE IN AS A PARTY OR CLASS MEMBER) ALL DISPUTES IN COURT BEFORE A JUDGE OR JURY. INSTEAD, YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT ALL DISPUTES WILL BE RESOLVED BEFORE A NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR, WHOSE AWARD (DECISION) WILL BE BINDING AND FINAL, EXCEPT FOR A LIMITED RIGHT OF APPEAL UNDER THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT. ANY COURT WITH JURISDICTION OVER THE PARTIES MAY ENFORCE THE ARBITRATOR'S AWARD.
THE ONLY DISPUTES NOT COVERED BY THE AGREEMENT IN SECTION 18.1 TO NEGOTIATE INFORMALLY AND ARBITRATE ARE DISPUTES ENFORCING, PROTECTING, OR CONCERNING THE VALIDITY OF ANY OF YOUR OR MICROSOFT'S (OR ANY OF YOUR OR MICROSOFT'S LICENSORS') INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS.
18.1.6. CLASS ACTION WAIVER. YOU AND MICROSOFT AGREE THAT ANY PROCEEDINGS TO RESOLVE OR LITIGATE ANY DISPUTE, WHETHER IN ARBITRATION, IN COURT, OR OTHERWISE, WILL BE CONDUCTED SOLELY ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS, AND THAT NEITHER YOU NOR MICROSOFT WILL SEEK TO HAVE ANY DISPUTE HEARD AS A CLASS ACTION, A REPRESENTATIVE ACTION, A COLLECTIVE ACTION, A PRIVATE ATTORNEY-GENERAL ACTION, OR IN ANY PROCEEDING IN WHICH YOU OR MICROSOFT ACTS OR PROPOSES TO ACT IN A REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY. YOU AND MICROSOFT FURTHER AGREE THAT NO ARBITRATION OR PROCEEDING WILL BE JOINED, CONSOLIDATED, OR COMBINED WITH ANOTHER ARBITRATION OR PROCEEDING WITHOUT THE PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT OF YOU, MICROSOFT, AND ALL PARTIES TO ANY SUCH ARBITRATION OR PROECCEDING.
Basically, both of those clauses protect Microsoft from being sued should you desire to take them to court over Xbox Live or your Xbox 360 console. Instead of going to court, any dispute will be handled by private arbitration. These arbitrations keep these disputes out of the public eye, which really only benefits Microsoft.
There are many states which provide citizens' rights to always be allowed legal action, so you might want to check your state before accepting Microsoft's ToS.
This is certainly not what you wanted to hear before starting your Xbox 360 dashboard download. Just don't shoot the messenger.