Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘TOS’

28th August 2010

The spread of Ecommerce is one of the major business trends of the past 15 years. As the internet and world wide web have become ubiquitous throughout the world the international economy has seen an overall increase in sales of goods and services over the internet. Communications technology has allowed online businesses, big and small, the opportunity to deal with customers directly. However, many once settled legal issues are the topic of much discussion in legal circles as the multi-jurisdictional nature of the world wide web has completely changed the landscape of international trade and commerce.

An example of the legal paradigm shift in contract law can be seen in the drafting of so-called “Terms of Service” Agreements or TOS agreements. These types of agreements are becoming increasingly common as more social and business interaction occurs online. TOS agreements generally stipulate the type of services that will be provided by a website, or network of websites. Furthermore, the TOS agreement usally stipulates what type of conduct will be permitted on a given platform and the type of conduct which may give rise to a termination of services. Some in the legal community feel that usage of Terms of Service Agreements (TOS Agreements) is likely to increase in the foreseeable future. However, the increased usage of such agreements is likely to occur in countries which may not use English as a primary language. This is particularly the case in emerging markets where the language of courts and tribunals is not necessarily English. This will likely lead to an increasing demand for legal professionals from non-English speaking countries to assist in the drafting of TOS agreements. How non-English speaking courts view these types of agreements remains to be seen in some jurisdictions, but this author has little doubt that drafting of TOS agreements will be increasingly necessary as global ecommerce increases in markets such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, China, Africa, Brazil, Greater South America, and Oceania.

Transactional Law is a key component of ecommerce as usage of credit cards and other online financial instruments has increased exponentially with the spread of the world wide web. As established payment platforms grow and new payment platforms come into existence, the role of legal professionals will change dramatically as lawyers and attorneys are likely to be sought to assist in both the structuring of online payment platforms and drafting of documents ancillary to online payment for goods and services. Specialized legal counsel may be necessary for e-businesses, depending upon the structure of a given online enterprise and its payment platform.

As the needs of international business evolves so too will the services provided by legal professionals. As the internet creates new opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs, lawyers and attorneys will likely be providing ever more innovative legal solutions for Ecommerce business owners, managers, and professionals.

For related information about the rise of outsourced legal processing services please see: Legal Process Outsourcing.

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19th April 2009

So I have been an avid user of Digg for the past year or so. I have read some of the horror stories of people who have been going about their days minding their own business on Digg only to suddenly find themselves booted from the community. I was one of those people thinking, “that can’t happen to me, right?” Wrong! Admittedly I have used Digg to promote some (I stress some) of my own stuff.  However, I have never spammed the system with outright promotional content and I feel that most of the submissions that were my own were the best stuff I’ve written. On other social media, people would seem to agree because some of my stuff has gotten widespread exposure.

And Along Came the Diggbar…

I don’t like to “game” the digg system in the sense that I do not go out of my way to submit things through other people (unless they truly find it interesting and want to submit my material). All of this is irrelevant because I think that ultimately I was banned not for my submission activities, but instead for using the diggbar!

Let me explain, after I learned I was banned I emailed Digg asking the reason for my unceremonious expulsion. The Digg staff replied with the following message:

Your account was reported to us as being in violation of our Terms of
Service ( for altering blocked sites from been
submitted to Digg to evade the url block. We must be vigilant in
protecting against activities that compromise the Digg community, this
decision is final and irreversible.

Now I don’t know if others understand this message, but I do not. I have never altered any site urls in order to submit to Digg. Over promoting my stuff: At times. Auto Digging the occasional piece: I must say that I have been guilty of this from time to time. Asking others to “Digg my stuff.” Sure, but never have I altered URLs (I am frankly not tech savvy enough to even know how to go about altering a URL other than the URL compression services and in this case I’ve never used them with relation to Digg). This leaves me with only one conclusion, I was banned for using the Diggbar because it altered my URL.

On other social media sites I have submitted the Diggbar condensed URL, mostly in an effort to get traffic to the Diggbar framed site as a method of facilitating further Digging. This is the only way in which I “altered sites.” Therefore the only conclusion that I can  come to for my banning is simply using the Diggbar.

Terms of Service and the Diggbar

I have a real problem with the Diggbar from the standpoint of Digg’s Terms of Service. When I signed up for Digg, there was no Diggbar and therefore I think it smacks of a lack of equity that Digg can change there services at will, but if the user steps out of line, even slightly, we are banned. Digg’s ability to materially alter the conditions of their TOS can be found in Section 2 of Digg’s Terms of Service:


Digg reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify or replace the Terms of Use at any time. If the alterations constitute a material change to the Terms of Use, Digg will notify you by posting an announcement on the Site. What constitutes a “material change” will be determined at Digg’s sole discretion, in good faith and using common sense and reasonable judgment. You shall be responsible for reviewing and becoming familiar with any such modifications. Use of the Services by you following such notification constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions of the Terms of Use as modified.

But what are you gonna do?…

There isn’t really much one can do about this from a legal standpoint, but it just seems unconscionable that Digg has such unfettered power and the user is so completely at their mercy. In the real world a service contract such as this would be unlikely to hold up under judicial scrutiny, but what can one do: sue Digg? Not likely, one must show damages in order to have a cause of action and since it violates the terms of use to profit from Digg (section 5 pretty well covers all profit earning endeavors) one is kind of trapped in a paradox: either no damages and no cause of action, or admit to making money off of Digg and thus be banned for violating another section of the TOS.  A true Catch 22.

Thanks for reading my rant I hope it makes some sense.

For information about my day job please see US Visa Thailand

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