Luján, Cassidy, Trahan Reintroduce TLDR Act to Increase Online Transparency

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (MA-03) reintroduced the Terms-of-service Labeling, Design and Readability (TLDR) Act to require commercial websites and mobile apps to create a simple, readable, and accessible summary of their terms-of-service agreements.

“Consumers deserve the ability to make informed decisions online without wading through confusing pages of legal jargon,” said Senator Luján, Chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. “Too many companies take advantage of consumers by burying critical details about their data policies and shield themselves from legal liability. The TLDR Act will help empower and protect consumers. Informing consumers is a bipartisan issue, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to provide real choice online.”

“It is long overdue for companies to be required to provide an easy-to-understand summary of their terms of services instead of the pages of legal jargon currently used,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Americans have the right to know and understand how their data is collected and used.”

“Blanket terms of service agreements have forced consumers to either ‘agree’ to all of a company’s conditions or lose access to a website or app entirely. No negotiation, no alternative, and no real choice,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “Some companies have taken advantage of this ultimatum to design unnecessarily long and complicated contracts, knowing that users don’t have the bandwidth to read lengthy legal documents when they’re simply trying to message a loved one or make a quick purchase. The TLDR Act will return power back to consumers by requiring companies to provide a simple, transparent description of what’s in their terms of service agreements, something the American people overwhelmingly support.”

A 2012 study found that the average American would take 76 work days to read the agreements for the technology companies they use. Yet, because of the complicated language and length of many terms of service documents, an overwhelming majority of users agree without reading any portion of the contract.

The TLDR Act requires that online companies, with the exception of small businesses, include a nutrition label-style summary table at the top of their terms of service and include machine-readable tags to make the agreements more accessible for consumers and researchers alike. This legislation will also require the summaries to inform consumers on how their data is collected and shared with third parties. As well as authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue guidance and enforce compliance. 

Full text of the bill is available HERE.



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