A group of American lawmakers has proposed legislation that would greatly simplify the content of user agreements on websites. Studies show that most users accept them without even reading them, and some web services take advantage of this.
According to the new draft law, such agreements should not only be “easy to understand” – The parliamentarians propose to provide additional information in it, including information about recently leaked information, if any, as well as a list of confidential data collected by the services. They may contain information about users’ health, their location and demographics: users’ race or religion, gender and age.
Rep. Lori Trahan pointed out that the complex language of user agreements is open to abuse, and some companies include provisions in the documents that increase control over users’ personal information. And users are deprived of the ability to make informed decisions about whether to use the services of such web services. Senators Ben Ray Luján and Bill Cassidy added that users don’t have to wade through legal jargon and that the requirement to use plain language in user agreements is long overdue – it will help increase transparency in the way companies operate increase, especially in the area of sensitive data processing.
Lawmakers say the initiative was inspired by the actions of former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who has published many of the company’s internal documents. Information that the company is aware of the potential threat of Instagram to teenage users became the reason for holding hearings in Congress. And parliamentarians realized they needed to update the legal framework to stop potential abuses by tech companies.