Google’s new Terms of Service

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Google have had a lot of flak from privacy campaigners and even the EU for their new Terms of Service, which came into effect on 1 March.

More interesting for Clarity is that they’ve made a big effort to use simple language and avoid legalese. They’ve also included links to explain technical terms in plain English. Finally, they’ve taken out a lot of the repetition, turning 26 different privacy policies and agreements into one.

It’s much easier to read these two sentences:

We are constantly changing and improving our Services. We may add or remove functionalities or features and we may suspend or stop a Service altogether.

than the original:

13.3 Google may at any time, terminate its legal agreement with you if:

(A) you have breached any provision of the Terms (or have acted in manner which clearly shows that you do not intend to, or are unable to comply with the provisions of the Terms); or

(B) Google is required to do so by law (for example, where the provision of the Services to you is, or becomes, unlawful); or

(C) the partner with whom Google offered the Services to you has terminated its relationship with Google or ceased to offer the Services to you; or

(D) Google is transitioning to no longer providing the Services to users in the country in which you are resident or from which you use the service; or

(E) the provision of the Services to you by Google is, in Google’s opinion, no longer commercially viable.

Awkward sentences such as “Google is transitioning to no longer providing…” are a problem for readers. Many people would struggle to understand Google’s strange use of “transition” as an intransitive verb.

If you’re so inclined, you can compare the new and old versions: http://www.google.com/intl/en-GB/policies/privacy/archive/

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