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Is small print in online contracts enforceable?




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.

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Tech News


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




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.


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MacBook Pro 2019 will be a 16-inch LCD laptop

MacBook Pro 2019 will be a 16-inch LCD laptop, New report affirms rumors and points to $3,000 starting price




New report affirms rumors and points to $3,000 starting price

We may have already seen new MacBook Pro models refreshed for 2019, but the true MacBook Pro 2019 is expected to land this October as a 16-inch LCD laptop, according to Taiwan’s United Daily News (UDN).

Given that this would be Apple’s largest MacBook Pro laptop since 2012’s final run of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, the company reportedly plans to slap a gargantuan baseline price tag onto this year’s model – which could rise above $3,000 (about £2,450, AU$4,350).

This laptop will likely be pushed heavily toward content creators and developers as a demonstration of Apple’s sincerity in serving those audiences. Here’s to hoping it will somehow satisfy the cross-section of folks that also like to game on their workhorse machines.

MacBook Pro 2019 backs down from OLED

This report corroborates one published by London-based market analysts IHS Markit, adding the pricing element to the mix. More importantly, this is the second report to state that the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019 display will not be an OLED product.

Instead, it will be an LCD to the tune of a 3,072 x 1,920 pixel resolution, which would give the display a rather competitive 226 pixels per inch (ppi) rating and a total of 5.9 million pixels. LCD or not, this is going to be a sharp 3K display.

Will that alone be enough to justify such an exorbitant starting price? Hardly. There are surely other features that Apple has cooking for this device.

We know that Apple is planning to allow this MacBook Pro up to 32GB of memory (RAM), which is already possible on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. 

And, of course, every report mentions an entirely new design likely focused on smaller screen bezels.

Exactly what kind of processor technology will be inside these laptops is also up in the air. Is Apple’s supposed ARM laptop processor to be finished in time for these new laptops? Or, will Apple go all in with AMD considering Intel’s faltering pole position in the laptop computing space?

We’ll almost certainly see more about these missing MacBook Pro 2019 details as we get closer to October 2019.


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Tech News

Google pays users to help build its FaceID

Google pays users to help build its FaceID, Google’s Pixel 4’s moderately sized bezel has been rumoured to be hiding




Google’s Pixel 4’s moderately sized bezel has been rumoured to be hiding a powerful secret — its own take on FaceID. Much like how Pixel Imprint is Google’s version of TouchID, Google is expected to add an additional form of biometric authentication to the Pixel 4 and 4 XL with this year.

As per a report from ZDNet, men on the street have been approached by Google employees and asked to capture different angles of their face in exchange for a $5 Amazon or Starbucks Giftcard. The images were taken with a phone in a case which obscured its design likely the Pixel 4 or 4 XL (or a prototype of one or the other.)
The firm is said to be doing this for multiple sites across the US to gather a large number of pictures with which to train its Pixel’s authentication system before launch.

Google previously offered facial recognition for its Android devices in the past. This method is likely to be more secure and 3D based than before.

Source: Google is paying users $5 to help build its FaceID competitor

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