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I'm planning on including Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, etc for users of my website. Following best practices I want to require affirmative "I agree to the terms and conditions" (or similar) checkbox. On the terms and conditions page I would like to include the full legal text as well as a bulleted summary at the top to give users increased confidence in the safety of the service and their data.

However, legal documents are very explicit and worded very specifically for a reason. Is there risk in summarizing a legal document into high level bullet points to provide easy consumption for readers in addition to the verbose text? IE, users are agreeing to the verbose text but here are the main points which are non-binding and for their convenience.

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Everything pertaining to law has some risks: some things are riskier than others. You would have to hire an attorney to provide a specialized analysis of your situation. However, we can address the broad legal principles, without suggesting how likely it is that you will get into trouble if you X rather than Y.

The basic principle underlying TOS and agreement is that to be bound by a contract (TOS), the user must agree to something specific – the TOS. You have to essentially deliver the contract to their digital hands, you can't just say "Good luck figuring out what document I mean or where it is". Typically, a click box say "I have read the Terms of Service and agree to those conditions", and with no further statements, the reasonable user will conclude "I have to click that link to see what I am agreeing to". If the box contains a synoptic version of the TOS, the reasonable user would thing "How nice, a very short TOS, I don't have to red some long legalese document". You have misled the user as to what they are agreeing to, and as the author of the legalese, you bear the consequences of your unclarity.

It is still possible to provide a "user-readable" synopsis, as long as you are clear that the actual legal TOS is something / somewhere else.

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  • Thanks! Of course I would provide a link to the actual document in the checkbox text. I struggled for a bit to find good search terms for what I'm looking for but eventually found a site which references this concept with some examples. I think this example is the best: web.500px.com/terms . Pinterest also has an example without calling it out specifically: policy.pinterest.com/en/terms-of-service – Caesar Kabalan Apr 26 at 18:03

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