This project maps some of the internet's most encountered End User License Agreements (EULAs), also commonly called Terms of Use. 

 

Over time,  these take-it-or-leave-it contracts have often expanded into legal hydras so complex that even legally-trained readers cannot meaningfully understand their terms (and the risks of using the product or service). Companies also claim that they have the right to change these terms at any time and that it's users' responsibility to keep reviewing them -- no matter how long and complicated they grow. In particular, users often do not understand that companies will argue that any privacy promises made by the privacy policy are limited by the provisions of the EULA. 

 

Are EULAs of this complexity legally enforceable? We say not always but not all courts may agree.

Can legislation help?  Yes. In particular, one suggestion might involve a uniform EULA form disclosure, akin to the uniform disclosures used for RESPA/TILA disclosures.

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Facebook (including Instagram)

Amazon

Google (including YouTube - coming soon)

Twitter (coming soon)

Apple (including iTunes coming soon)

Microsoft 365 (coming soon)

TikTok (coming soon)

Snapchat

Reddit

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Facebook

This visual representation maps our effort to review the (first two tiers of) terms/EULAs incorporated by reference in the Facebook EULA. In other words, users would need to review all of these terms/agreements in order to understand how Facebook uses the information they submit as payment for services.

As reviewed on November 15, 2019, these first two tiers of terms alone total over 800,000 words of text, which translates into OVER 65 HOURS of reading at the rate of 200 words a minute.

But, even assuming that a user successfully reviews these terms at time of signup, Facebook asserts its terms to be amendable at any time. This means that users lack certainty about whether any of these incorporated terms have changed since last review. 

 

**NOTE: This map is artificially limited by the capacity of our mapping software. Additional layers of terms exist. We were unable to create a complete map.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This interactive version allows you to follow the thread of various linked contracts and terms from their point of origin in the Facebook EULA: 

 

EULAs of despair

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Amazon

This visual representation maps our effort to review the terms/EULAs incorporated by reference in the Amazon EULA. In other words, users would need to review all of these terms/agreements in order to understand how Amazon uses their information.

 

As reviewed on June 10, 2021, the first three tiers of terms alone total over 642,000 words of text, which translates into OVER 159 HOURS of reading at the rate of 200 words a minute. Amazon's first tier EULA alone would take about 56 minutes to read at this pace.

But, even assuming that a user successfully reviews these terms at time of signup, Amazon asserts its terms to be unilaterally amendable by it at any time. This means that users lack certainty about whether any of these incorporated terms have changed since last review.

Additionally, we could keep going. We stopped at three rings, but the fourth is already on the map. We could add a fifth, probably a sixth, and so on. Even this visual representation is only the beginning of the full extent of the incorporated terms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This interactive version allows you to follow the thread of various linked contracts and terms from their point of origin in the Amazon EULA: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google (coming soon)

Twitter (coming soon)

 

 

iTunes (coming soon)

Microsoft 365 (coming soon)

 
 

Snapchat

Reddit

 
 
 
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What is a EULA?

End User License Agreements (EULAs) are contracts that govern consumers' use of technology products and services.  They can appear as pop-up boxes that ask you to click 'yes' or they might appear as a link at the top or bottom of a website.

Are these EULAs legally enforceable? 

In order for a contract to be validly formed, it must reflect three parts -

1. an understandable offer,

2. a clear act of acceptance by the offer's intended recipient of those terms, AND 

3. (bargained for, identified) consideration that triggers the exchange of promises.

Many EULAs now appear to violate these most basic legal principles of contact formation:

Offer and Acceptance: Many EULAs now leave even legally-trained users unable to identify and understand the full terms of the offer presented. In particular, EULAs now often incorporate other EULAs by reference (which themselves incorporate other EULAs, etc.).   

 

Consideration: Because of the vagueness of many EULAs' terms, users are often unable to assess the full extent of the consideration they are providing: vague terms leave users unable to meaningfully determine the true price of products (money + data + risk). The scope of monitoring, recording, repurposing and sharing of users' information (including with various third parties) is rarely - if ever - plainly disclosed to users with particularity in EULAs.   

You can learn more about contract law challenges to EULA enforceability in these articles written by Prof. Andrea Matwyshyn:
Privacy, the Hacker Way, 87 Southern California Law Review 1 (2014).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Technoconsen(t)sus, 85 Washington University Law Review 529 (2007).
 
 
 
 
 
 
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