Docracy Helps You Track Changes In Online Terms of Service


You never know when these new media / web services are going to pull the rug out on privacy and change the Terms of Service. Other than those high profile changes that get the tech blogs all in a bunch, it is very difficult to track changes and modify your on-line behavior accordingly.

Docracy to the rescue! If you are unfamiliar with Docracy, I have a video with their ad blurb at the bottom of the post, but short story: Docracy offers a web tool for the creation, modification and electronic signing of “free” legal docs. More to the point of this post, Docracy has a new online Terms of Service Tracker. From their site:

Using Docracy’s unique document change analysis, we are now tracking terms of service and privacy policies for hundreds of the world’s top sites. See below for summaries of recent changes, or to see the complete terms for any of the sites we track.

We started tracking these policies on January 16th, 2013. Earlier versions of selected policies can be found on EFF’s TOSBack and TOSBack2 projects.

It’s nice to have someone like Docracy do the heavy lifting for you. Just subscribe at the link to their RSS feed and be notified when they note a change in a policy. If it affects you, simply head over to the site for more detail and, if warranted OPT OUT!

Docracy’s main tool, the free document generator, not only offers consumers a source for free basic forms, it also offers attorneys a means of promoting their work by submitting documents to the pool and gaining another outpost for sharing work online. Obviously, use of the free docs won’t directly result in money in your pocket, but decent, on-point resources on your profile page or embedded in your website may cause a few people to head your way when they need more than a simple form. For more about Docracy, check out their vid:

Docracy: Legal Docs As Fungible Goods

TechCrunch is wrapping (has wrapped) up its 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt conference and, for sure, some cool apps and tools have come out of the mix. One of these is Docracy, a crowd-sourced legal document database, with e-signing. The idea is that users will add the documents to the site in an open-source, crowd-sourced kind of relationship. Documents may include wills, contracts, trusts, non-competes, etc. I am not certain if it will be possible to download docs – it looks like the founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson appear to be intending users to compare their own documents against the Docracy docs to make sure their own docs are not rife with unusual, out of the ordinary terms. Hall and Watkinson see the need to be filled as those small legal matters that don’t necessarily warrant the cost of a lawyer but still could use a touch of due diligence.

Of course, there is the necessary caution that should be exercised when considering using a form document and the sense that “one size fits all” doesn’t necessarily work with legal documents across the fifty states. Nonetheless, you have to give the guys some credit for seeing a hole and attempting to fill it.

Docracy is not quite up yet – put your name on their mailing list to get the good word when the site goes live.