Court says no to TOS changes without notification

Written by Tim Smalley

July 31, 2007 // 9:04 a.m.

Tags: #america #aol #changes #court #customers #douglas #notification #of #provider #service #talk #terms #tos

For many Internet veterans out there, when you read TOS (Terms of Service), you think of AOL. This is mainly due to the fact that when you were booted offline for violating one of AOL's numerous rules, you were “TOSed.”

That connection between reading TOS and thinking about AOL has a tighter bond now that the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has decided that a service provider can not change its TOS without fully notifying its customers.

In the case of Douglas vs. Talk America, the courts have ruled that it is unreasonable for a person to have to regularly check the Terms of Service to see if it had been modified from the original version that was agreed upon by both parties. Even if the original terms included a clause stating that the provider will not notify the customer of a change, it must now do so.

This decision is a move that will give more power to the customers then to the companies by allowing the customers to opt-out of services if they disagree with the new terms. With some services having a cancellation fee for prematurely terminating a contract, this can provide a loop hole out if you are unsatisfied with the services provided.

With it possibly reaching the United States Supreme Court if this decision is appealed, do you think that the courts should lean in favour of this new decision or should a company be allowed to change its Terms of Service when it wants without notifying you? Let us know in the forums or in the comments section below.

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