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EFF tracking policy changes at Google, Facebook and others

Privacy group creates Web site that makes it easy for people to monitor changes to terms of service for companies including Google, Facebook, eBay and Apple.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Thursday launched a new online site that keeps track of the policy changes at popular Web sites as specified in their terms of service.

The EFF's TOSBack site lists the terms of service and offers alerts when the terms of service on tracked sites change. It features a real-time feed of changes and side-by-side before and after comparisons with highlights in different colors for text that has been removed or added.

The EFF's new TOSBack tracker site highlights changes companies make to their terms of service. Electronic Frontier Foundation

The sites being tracked include Google's Blogger, Facebook, YouTube, eBay, Apple, WordPress, Data.Gov, and GoDaddy.

"'Terms of Service' policies on websites define how Internet businesses interact with you and use your personal information," the EFF said in a statement. "But most web users don't read these policies--or understand that the terms are constantly changing."

Companies can change their terms of service at any time, for any reason and without any notification to users. This site will give people an easy way to keep track of policy changes.

Many TOS changes are minor, but companies often make changes under the radar that could have serious consequences for user privacy.

Facebook earlier this year modified its terms of use to give it a perpetual license to use deleted user content. The company later backed down and returned to its former terms of service after a user revolt and the threat that privacy advocates would file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.