Digital service terms and conditions from a radical/co-op perspective

Hey. We’re chatting with the folk at RadHR and the question of “radical” terms and conditions came up. What do people advise when generating these sorts of documents for the projects we all launch and support?

My somewhat hot take on this is that T&Cs/Privacy Policy documents on websites and digital services, as they are often procured, are a bit detached from reality.

Maybe this is a result of all the templating services out there and the popularisation of these formats by large companies with complex operations.

From the perspective of facilitating democracy, it seems obvious that these approaches are disabling.

From a data protection point of view, GDPR in particular leans towards plain, explicit communication of the key points that make up the ‘machinery’ of a service. Often it feels possible to take a “good enough for now, safe enough to try” approach to privacy policy, by just being clear what is going on within your team.

Terms and conditions of service, where they involve user accounts and user data, often feel over-engineered too. I struggle to understand the need for much content beyond disclaiming user-submitted content or things like “this is not actually legal/medical advice”.

That all makes sense to me but IANAL…

This forum simply has the default Terms of Service and Privacy policy that came with Discourse…

We Are Open often uses remix and community driven processes for those kinds of docs. However, most of our clients have more use for community guidelines and codes of conducts so we tend to leave ToRs and privacy policies to their lawyers (also we aren’t lawyers).

We did remix our own privacy and data retention policies because they were boring and we didn’t want to be like that. But those reality detached ToS is a whole issue in an of itself – there’s projects* around making this better for the public (corporate tech takes all the rights, it’s a solid grounding for all the indie web movements) :fist:

Anyway, I guess my long-winded short answer is when we advise on this sort of stuff we use the IANAL disclaimer and recommend remixing stuff that is openly licensed and doesn’t suck.

*I remember a project from years and years ago called Terms of Service Didn’t Read

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Radical terms and conditions would be to not have terms and conditions in the first place!