Let's STOP
the Biggest Lie on the web!
  • Stop!
  • Why?
  • How?
  • Action
  • About
  • Confess and protest against the Biggest Lie!

    * No personal information collected. We just count.
    since May 30, 2012
    Doc Searls blogged about BiggestLie.com:
    We lie every time we "accept" terms that we haven’t read ... We need to change that.
  • Why should the Biggest Lie be stopped?

    click to expandUsers get exploited
    Providers can include whatever terms they like in the agreements as long as nobody reads them. Even if terms are fair, some users will regret having signed the agreement because they were expecting something else.
    click to expandUsers get excluded
    Some users who do not want to accept an agreement they cannot understand or do not have the time to read will stay away from great services, thus reducing market size and contributing to the digital divide
    click to expandLimiting value
    Some users, not knowing the terms, will be restrictive in their use, and only get limited benefit from the services. How fun would a social network be if you didn't trust it with some personal data?
    click to expandWasting time
    Some users spend a lot of time actually reading the agreements, and service providers spend time writing for almost nobody.
    click to expandLessening competition
    Websites and other online services should be able to compete with great terms and agreements, but today that's hard because nobody has a clue what they agree to.
    click to expandEroding respect for contracts
    Some users may become less respectful of agreements in general, having ignored so many of them
  • How can the Biggest Lie be stopped?

    Here are some options, with links to great initiatives:

    click to expandUse simple language
    Of course, agreements should be written in plain English (or whatever language users understand)!

    Clarity is promoting plain legal language.
    500px.com Terms and I agree to are great examples of how agreements can be made easier to read.
    Iubenda and Privacychoice provide tools and templates for simple and clear Privacy policies.

    These are great initiatives! Everybody should do this. But you can only simplify to a certain level before losing precision. Unless you add standardization.
    click to expandStandardize terms, use icons
    Creative Commons did this for copyright.
    Mozilla Privacy Icons and a few others have tried it for privacy.
    CommonTerms is trying do this for all kinds of online Terms & Conditions.

    Not possible to create icons for all terms, so you have to pick a few.
    Which ones?
    click to expandStandardize entire agreements
    The open source software movement has this: A limited set of standard licenses - GPL, BSD, Apache and a few more. Users can learn to distinguish between them and then easily determine if the license is acceptable when they find a new software they want to use.
    Docracy is doing something similar by providing open sourced full TOS and privacy policies.

    Not possible to cover everything with standard agreements.
    click to expandStandardize summary format
    Nutrition Labels does this for food, at least in some countries.
    Carnegie Mellon University applied this to Privacy policies.
    CommonTerms is trying to do this for all kinds of online Terms & Conditions.
    StandardLabel is a new project with similar ambitions.

    Hard to make it flexible enough for all kinds of agreements and still possible to understand at a glance.
    click to expandUse trust mark / score
    PrivacyScore is doing this for privacy: Calculating a single digit to represent the overall privacy score of a website.
    Trust-e has a similar but binary approach: Either you qualify for the trust mark or you don't.
    Terms of Service; Didn't Read have begun grading (A-F) and commenting on TOS documents

    Not possible to rate terms that aren't inherently good or bad (eg. jurisdiction). Requires assessment by trusted third party.
    click to expandCentralized monitoring
    TOSSOS has just started the development.
    TosBack2 is a remake of the EFF TosBack service, automatically harvesting and tracking changes to TOS documents.

    This is great for change tracking and comparisons, but will not necessarily make the content more accessible.
    click to expandOther ways
    Ryan Calo over at Stanford has published inspiring ideas about visceral notices, ie. not using symbolic language at all.
    Youluh wants to automatically analyze EULA documents, to make it easier for you to decide whether to accept or not!
    Vendor Relationship Management is a relevant research area exploiting new ways for users to engage with vendors online. EmanciTerm, for example, proposes that users should bring their own set of terms, to be automatically matched with those of service providers.

    There is now a mailinglist for people working to make the biggest lie obsolete. See www.opennotice.org for more info.
  • Support our fight against the Biggest Lie!

    Here's what you can do:

    click to expandTell your friends
    Confess on Facebook

    click to expandPut our badge on your website!
    I confessed the Biggest Lie!

    To use: Copy+paste this code:
    click to expandSupport constructive projects!
    Support projects that are doing something about the problem! (See How section for examples.)
  • About BiggestLie.com

    This campaign was started by some of the people working with CommonTerms, one of several projects that try to change status quo regarding the Biggest Lie.

    Our own proposal to solve the problem may or may not work. But we're happy as long as any working solution comes along. So we created this campaign to put a focus on the problem, and to support all efforts to solve it.

The Biggest Lie, of course, is