Tag Archives: privacy policy

Tradeoffs and Terms of Service

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One thing I’ve learned about starting and growing a business is that all the important decisions are tradeoffs between two different goals (as opposed to choosing between two ways to achieve one goal). The most recent example of this is a set of changes we made to our Terms of Service, which we announced on Sunday. We haven’t updated our TOS in quite a while so there were a fair number of small language tweaks to make; those were easy. There was one change that led to an interesting tradeoff – the decision of whether we should plan to email all users for any further changes to the TOS.

On the one hand, we’re strong believers in openness and communication, because we know that our customers trust us with some of their most important data. On the other hand, as individuals we get a lot of email from services we’ve signed up for and it’s sometimes hard to sort out what’s important. And we’ve heard from users that many of them share this sense of “email overload,” which suggests we should be judicious about when we send out emails.

After talking to colleagues and looking at what other online services are doing we’ve decide to strike what we think is a healthy balance – we will email all of our users (more than two hundred thousand!) when we have a significant update to our Terms of Service, and the email we send will draw the reader’s attention to what changed. But when we make small language changes or fix a mistake or typo, we won’t email all of our users. You can always find a link to our TOS on our homepage, and I should note that our TOS only governs your right to use the service. Actions involving the use of and your access to your data are covered in our Privacy Policy, which has not changed. That policy states we will email you anytime we make changes.

We think this approach is the right tradeoff, though we expect that there will be users who still feel we email too much, and others who would prefer to be notified for every change. As always, feel free to leave a comment or email us with your feedback or questions about this issue.

Yahoo puts a price on your privacy: $40

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In a previous post we explained why Google’s privacy policy should scare you. So far, at least, even Google is less terrifying (and mercenary) than Yahoo, who will sell out your privacy for about $40.

The above is the price list that Yahoo charges the government for turning over user records. Not only does Yahoo have no problem turning over the contents of any user account — including all stored e-mail — upon request, but the company views abrogating your privacy as a profit center. Not a great profit center, mind you, as the complete contents of your account is only worth $40, but it’s clear the company is ready and willing to sell you out. Cheap.

Anyone else feeling the need to keep a copy of your online data with a third party, just in case the original cloud provider decides the government has more of a right to your data than you do, or that you’ll have to fork over $40 to know what Uncle Sam knows about you?

Me too.

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