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Is small print in online contracts enforceable?

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By Alex Hudson of BBC News

Some companies have terms of service so expansive they contain more words than novels

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With some internet companies’ terms and conditions being longer than Shakespeare’s Hamlet, could it be that “unfair” clauses in agreements are not even worth the paper they are printed on?

Terms of service online have been in the news in recent years.

In 2012 Facebook’s photo-sharing site Instagram updated its privacy policy giving it the right to sell users’ photos to advertisers without notification.

Three days later, after a public backlash, the policy was dropped, citing “not communicating clearly”.

A month later the number of people using the site was believed to have dropped by nearly 50%.

Yet companies continue to test the boundaries of what consumers are willing to accept.

“Apple reserves the right at any time to modify this agreement and to impose new or additional terms,” the iTunes terms of service says.

But most people probably will not have read that when signing up to iTunes.

Law in Action’s Joshua Rozenberg discusses on BBC Radio 4 what we really agree to when we accept internet companies’ terms of service.

Listen to the whole programme on iPlayer
It gives companies the right to change anything agreed to in the initial agreement and by continuing to use the service, users agree without giving specific consent.

“We see it in Microsoft, Netflix, Apple,” says Jimm Stout, of the site Terms of Service; Didn’t Read (ToS;DR).

“They don’t have to tell you, they may tell you but they may not. Just continuing to use the service is complying with that contract,” he adds.

ToS;DR has been set-up to “fix the biggest lie on the internet,” where people tick a box to say they have read things they have signed up for.

But it could be that, in Europe at least, these sort of clauses may not hold much weight if they ever went to court.

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If you were to read all the policies that you agreed to online, you would have to take 76 workdays just to finish ”

Jimm Stout
Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
Would it be possible for a company to enforce a condition they had introduced without letting people know?

“It isn’t possible as such, not under European law,” says Professor Julia Hoernle, an internet law specialist at Queen Mary, University of London.

She tells BBC Radio 4’s Law In Action: “The first point is that in a long-term relationship such as a social network, the service provider has to be able to, at some stage, change terms as they engage in technical innovation, they offer new services, they want to collect different data or the prices change.

“There has to be some mechanism whereby they can change the terms.

“But it’s quite clear they have to give notice to the consumer and give the consumer a choice to cancel the contract because they don’t find these terms acceptable any more.”

Longer than Hamlet
Many companies carry this sort of clause in their terms of service, and it is believed to be valid in the US legal system.

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Apple’s terms

“Apple reserves the right at any time to modify this Agreement and to impose new or additional terms or conditions on your use of the iTunes Service.

“Such modifications and additional terms and conditions will be effective immediately and incorporated into this Agreement. Your continued use of the iTunes Service will be deemed acceptance thereof.”

Apple iTunes’ full terms and conditions
But if it is illegal under European law, why are companies which operate here trying to retain the right to do whatever they wish?

“Customers don’t read the terms of service so [companies] get away with it,” says Prof Hoernle.

“The consumer might win but the consumer has the heavy burden of taking the cost of litigation. It takes a brave person to take on a service company on the internet,” she adds.

It is perhaps not surprising consumers do not read every terms of service agreement they sign up to.

Shakespeare’s longest play, Hamlet, is around 30,000 words long.

Paypal’s terms of service agreement contains approximately 50,000 words.

Apple iTunes’ conditions come in at a mere 14,500 words, just under the length of Macbeth.

“If you were to read all the policies that you agreed to online, you would have to take 76 work days just to finish reading through the policies you agreed to,” says Mr Stout.

Apple was unavailable for comment.

‘No restrictions’
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the courts now take into account that if there are unfair clauses hidden away in terms of service”

Prof Hörnle
Queen Mary, University of London
They certainly cannot be accused of not being thorough. But is this not just a way for companies to make sure people don’t read them?

Prof Hoernle says: “The law does not impose any restrictions on length of terms and services. It puts quite a heavy burden on the user to read the terms of service.”

In 2010 retailer Gamestation chose to change its online agreement to something a little bit more risqué.

“You agree to grant us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul,” it read.

It was published on 1 April.

Instagram was forced to back down last year when it tried to change its terms and conditions
“Of course it was an April Fool’s Day joke but they proved a big point,” says Mr Stout.

“People don’t read these things. People don’t know what they’re agreeing to,” he adds.

The saving grace could be that companies are less likely to be able to enforce rules that are not “fair” if the person using the site is not made aware of them specifically.

“There are controls on what we call unfair terms,” says Prof Hoernle.

She says: “Clearly the courts now take into account that if there are unfair clauses hidden away in terms of service, it’s more likely to be [deemed] unfair.

“The user has to be made aware of the terms of service and if there are any unusual or surprising terms of service, they have to be pointed out specifically to the consumer.”

If this is the case, it seems like there are nearly as many rules on terms and conditions as there are in terms and conditions themselves.

culled from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22772321?ocid=socialflow_twitter_bbcworld

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Samsung Exposes Radical New Galaxy Smartphone

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Samsung’s Galaxy S11 has leaked and leaked again, revealing a series of radical new features. And now Samsung confirmed its new smartphone for the first time. 

Samsung Galaxy S11, Samsung Galaxy S11 upgrade, Samsung Galaxy S11 release date,
Samsung Galaxy S11 conceptPHONEARENA

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Picked up by the ever-alert XDA Developers, Samsung has publicly revealed the Galaxy S11 for the first time in its application to China’s CCC. The company also disclosed its exact model number as well as its headline feature and fast charging speed. 

Samsung Galaxy S11, Galaxy S11 camera, Galaxy S11 releease date,
Cameras on the released Galaxy S11 will not match these leaked rendersONLEAKS/CASHKARO

11/27 Update: acclaimed leaker @OnLeaks has teamed with CashKaro to reveal just how radical Samsung’s Galaxy S11+ will be thanks to an extreme new quintuple rear camera in a huge rectangular hump. The primary camera is understood to be 108MP with 5X optical zoom, capable of 8K video recording but, aside from ultra-wide angle and telephoto lenses, it is unknown what the other modules will do. Images below.

12/1 Update: popular Samsung insider @IceUniverse has built upon the OnLeak’s design leak revealing that “key parts are wrong, the real design is more beautiful than this” explaining that the cameras will be symmetrical and the 5x optical zoom lens will be square. While the display will have a class-leading 120Hz display.

Samsung Galaxy S11, Galaxy S11+, Samsung Galaxy S11 camera,
Design leak of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S11+ with no less than 5 rear camerasONLEAKS / CASHKARO

12/18 Update: Ice Universe is back with a further design update. He confirms the top and bottom bezels are even (a Samsung first) as well as an image of the all-new camera he promised would be symmetrical, unlike the initial renders from OnLeaks.

Samsung Galaxy S11, Galaxy S11 camera upgrade,
Galaxy S11 render based on multiple leaksICE UNIVERSE

The first of these is good news. Samsung confirms the Galaxy S11 (listed as ‘SM-G9860’) will come with 5G. This should set the bar for 2020 smartphones with almost all rivals upgrading their flagships to 5G tech, including wide-band support from Apple. 

The second disclosure, is less positive. Samsung reveals that the Galaxy S11 will only have support for a maximum charging speed of 25W. Granted, this is a step-up from the ageing 15W standard of the Galaxy S10, but the Note 10 Plus introduced 45W charging so it’s going to raise eyebrows that Samsung has taken a step down from this. 

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Samsung’s Galaxy S11 won’t work with the 45W Galaxy Note 10+ charger SAMSUNG

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I suspect the reality is Samsung will again save 45W charging for the larger Galaxy S11 Plus, but with big rivals like OnePlus, Honor and Huawei all offering phones with 40W+ charge capabilities, it’s surprising to see Samsung be so unambitious with Galaxy S11. It also confirms that revolutionary new battery tech Samsung is working on will not make it into the phone.

That said, elsewhere we know Samsung is aiming high. Samsung is equipping its Galaxy S11s with a potentially groundbreaking camera codenamed ‘Hubble’ due to its extreme zoom capabilities. There will also be new shooting modes, a new design, big performance upgrades, next-gen memory, a supersized fingerprint sensor and a real crowdpleaser: much bigger batteries. 

With all this information, should you still buy the Galaxy S10 or Galaxy Note 10? On the surface no, but I will admit there are some massive Black Friday savings to be had on both models, which might just tip the balance.  

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2019/12/18/samsung-exposes-radical-new-galaxy-smartphone-updated/#1e1e25836bbf

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FTC hits Facebook with record $5 billion fine

FTC hits Facebook with record $5 billion fine – Facebook and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have agreed to a sweeping,

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Facebook and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have agreed to a sweeping, $5 billion settlement related to Facebook’s user privacy violations. As part of the record-breaking settlement, Facebook has agreed to conduct a massive overhaul of its consumer privacy practices. The settlement also removes CEO Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook’s sole privacy decision maker. 

The FTC investigation, launched following the events of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, alleges that Facebook repeatedly used “deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine users’ privacy preferences” in violation of its 2012 agreement with the FTC. The FTC also alleges that Facebook was inadequate in dealing with apps that it knew were violating its platform policies.

“These tactics allowed the company to share users’ personal information with third-party apps that were downloaded by the user’s Facebook ‘friends,'” the agency said. “The FTC alleges that many users were unaware that Facebook was sharing such information, and therefore did not take the steps needed to opt-out of sharing.”

Going forward, Facebook will now be required to conduct a privacy review of every new product, service, or practice it develops before it’s implemented, as well as establish an independent privacy committee in an effort to strip Zuckerberg of his “unfettered control” over user privacy decisions. 

Facebook will also be required to designate compliance officers who, along with Zuckerberg, will submit quarterly certifications that Facebook is in compliance with the settlement’s mandates. Meanwhile, a third-party organization will assess Facebook’s data-collection practices, including those on Instagram and WhatsApp, every other year for the next 20 years. 

Additional new privacy requirements include the following:

  • Facebook must exercise greater oversight over third-party apps, including by terminating app developers that fail to certify that they are in compliance with Facebook’s platform policies or fail to justify their need for specific user data;
  • Facebook is prohibited from using telephone numbers obtained to enable a security feature (e.g., two-factor authentication) for advertising;
  • Facebook must provide clear and conspicuous notice of its use of facial recognition technology, and obtain affirmative express user consent prior to any use that materially exceeds its prior disclosures to users;
  • Facebook must establish, implement, and maintain a comprehensive data security program;
  • Facebook must encrypt user passwords and regularly scan to detect whether any passwords are stored in plaintext; and
  • Facebook is prohibited from asking for email passwords to other services when consumers sign up for its services.

The settlement is the FTC’s largest financial penalty to date, trouncing the $22.5 million fine imposed on Google in 2012. Facebook also reached a $100 million settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for “making misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of Facebook user data.” The SEC alleges that Facebook discovered the misuse of user data in 2015 but downplayed the severity of the consumer privacy risks for another two years. 

In April, Facebook disclosed that in Q1, it set aside $3 billion for expenses related to the FTC probe, expecting the investigation to cost it somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion. Facebook’s revenue for the quarter exceeded $15 billion. 

“The agreement will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach our work and it will place additional responsibility on people building our products at every level of the company,” Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday morning. “It will mark a sharper turn toward privacy, on a different scale than anything we’ve done in the past.”

In a separate announcement, the FTC revealed that it also sued Cambridge Analytica, and settled with its former CEO and the developer responsible for making the app that harvested Facebook user data.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/ftc-hits-facebook-with-record-5-billion-fine-for-user-privacy-violations/

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SAMSUNG WATCH ACTIVE 2 SPECS IS ONLINE

SAMSUNG WATCH ACTIVE 2 SPECS IS ONLINE, While Samsung is gearing up to launch the Galaxy Note 10 series on August 7,

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While Samsung is gearing up to launch the Galaxy Note 10 series on August 7, there are reports about the arrival of a Galaxy Watch Active 2. It’s unclear if whether the company will launch the wearable with the new smartphone series, or if its launch will be moved forward. Despite this, more and more leaks are surfacing and revealing details about the Watch Active 2.

A couple of pictures were revealed today by the popular leakster, Evan Blass, from evleaks. According to another report from SamMobile, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 will come in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm. The former has a 1.2-inch screen, while the latter will be equipped with a 1.4-inch display. Both displays will boast AMOLED technology plus Gorilla Glass DX+. Last but not least they’ll sport 360×360 pixels of resolution. Join GizChina on Telegram

Galaxy Watch Active 2

The smaller model will weigh 31g, while the bigger one scales at 36g. They will arrive in either aluminum or stainless steel case, both are built to comply with MIL-STD 810G durability standards. According to reports, Samsung will equip the newer models with a touch-sensitive bezel. Therefore it will allow users to interact with functions without having to touch on the screen. That’s an interesting feature, after all, smartwatches displays are usually too small so it’s hard to interact with a touch-sensitive display without covering the content.

The Watch Active 2 will carry Samsung Exynos 9110 SoC underhood. The smartwatch boasts 768 MB of RAM on the Bluetooth-only model and 1.5GB on the LTE-capable variant. Both versions will boast 4GB of Internal Storage. Reportedly, the 40mm unit will have a  247 mAh battery. The 44mm model will fit a larger 340 mAh cell. As previously rumored, ECG and fall detection are both on board. However, the former can take some time to arrive at the shelves.

Last details include Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and a plethora of colors for the aluminum variants:  Silver, Black and Pink Gold, while the stainless steel color will arrive in Silver, Black and Gold. Worth noting that the LTE variant will only be available with a stainless steel finish.

Source: https://www.gizchina.com/2019/07/23/samsung-galaxy-watch-active-2-specs-surface-online/

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