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How are Terms of Service Used?
The terms and conditions stipulated in a TOS or TOU are legally binding, that is, any client that purchases a product with TOS attached on it must abide by the stated rules in order to use or enjoy the product/service. Companies that provide software for websites, browsers for users, e-commerce companies, social media firms, and some other companies use TOS for legal purposes. However, if a user is seriously harmed by TOS and has evidence for this harn a suit or arbitration case can be filed against the provider. Also, if the provider breaches the terms or alters the agreements of TOU, the user can also take to the court of law. There is specific content that a TOS contains, these include;
- Definition of keywords and phrases that are in the product which may sound ambiguous to the user.
- Clear terms stating how a product is expected to be used and misused.
- The rights and responsibilities of users.
- Acceptable actions and conducts of users when accessing the product.
- How payment for the product can be made (if there is any payment plan, it should be stated)
- Provisions on dispute resolution and legal rights of users in cases of breach of terms by the provider
- Legal liability for damages incurred by users, among other terms as the provider deem them fit.
Professionals strive to increase public awareness on the terms of service documents and issues around them. There are many issues that ensued between users and providers regarding terms of service, these issues were publicized by a documentary in 2013. The policies and practises of companies that attach TOS to their products are considered. Also, the policies of these companies in the treatment of users rights and policies are treated. 54 professional critics reviewed terms of service and they score each clause in each terms of service document depending on the context of the services it applies to. How these companies handle and use users' data, disclosure of users' data, amendment of terms, closing users' accounts, how users pay fines, and other cogent issues are discussed and rated. Continuous attempts to improve public awareness on terms of service exist and this happen through several initiatives and the clarification of differences in terms used by different service providers. The terms of service differ from one company to another depending on the types of services they offer. These terms are also subject to change which varies from service to service. Professionals as well as critics aim to increase public awareness on major areas such as;
- Transparency of terms of service and accountability of practices
- Copyright licensing on user content
- Termination of the service by user
- Availability of previous terms and changes in terms
- Notification and changes prior to changes in terms
- Third-party requests for personal data
- Policy on information transfer, among others.