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I am an avid community user for a paid software. The users buy the software, but not access to support. The company makes a strong use of the friendly community in their product advertisements.

The community support (Discord, and a forum) comes with their own terms of service. To date, I've witnessed several people be banned from community services without disclosed reason, with no violation of the terms of use.

After the ban, they are ignored when they ask for explanation, and "third-party" users such as myself are refused any details under the ground it is private - even when the user in question is asking me to speak for them as they cannot reach the company directly.

The users I've seen have been helpful, had good reputation, have had no warnings, and are suitably confused by the actions taken against them. In the latest incident, the user had not been active for a month, not posting for longer, yet was banned for "reports from users that your behaviour and speech was inappropriate".

When they tried to work out why, they were repeatedly told "the decision is final", and when asking for what messages specifically they were banned for, they were refused it. Is it not necessary to describe what was inappropriate?

I've inspected discrimination law, but the grounds does not seem to be under protected characteristics. So, is there any illegal action being taken here? Is it legal to target and carry out a restriction on random users like this, without supplying adequate reason?

The company is based in France, are there any overseeing regulatory bodies, or legislation that is in violation?

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    "The community support... comes with their own terms of service." And it probably says that users can be banned for any reason. Users are bound by the TOS, which is a legal agreement. Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 22:39
  • @BlueDogRanch Is there actually French law saying that TOS are legally binding? I've never seen that.
    – bdb484
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 23:17
  • The ToS does state that the user's access could be revoked, but for abusive behaviour a warning must first be given and the behaviour continued, which this user never received. That aside, the ToS was edited after the first ban incident years ago, as if the company realised they couldn't just ban for no reason, and edited it so they could. I would argue since I signed up on the original ToS which didn't allow that, I wouldn't be under it, but that's outside the scope of this question I suppose.
    – Phi
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 1:12
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    The problems with your question are: 1) you're asking for this third party, and you may not complete info about the warnings. 2) The TOS may state that they can change the TOS anytime they want without notifications; does it? 3) We don't know any facts about why the company edited the TOS. 4) You can argue all you want about the old version of the TOS, but if the TOS says you agree to changes in the TOS, you're out of luck. OTOH, if the TOS breaks French law, it's null and void, but that's doubtful. Sure, you can sue; how much time/money do you have? Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 16:17
  • 1) I do trust the third party, but I am aware of that. 2/4) The first version didn't, and even if it did, no notice or request to agree to the new ToS was sent out when it was changed. 3) It happened when I was asking about why they were banned without violating anything, and pointed out the lack of grounds for banning. (The ban was not reversed, just ToS edited.) And sure, but civil lawsuits are the last-ditch, I was being hopeful that there was some sort of regulatory body.
    – Phi
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 19:20

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Under US law, the situation would be clear: The company can decline to permit anyone to use its site, even without a provision in the TOS saying so, unless it has specifically contracted to provide service via the site. The company may change the TOS at any time, unless it has a specific contract to permit access under the old TOS, and the revised TOS will apply to all use of the site subsequent to the change, even if the old TOS did not specifically authorize changes.

No US anti-discrimination or consumer protection law that I know of would apply in this fact pattern.

I have not found any relevant French law either, but my French skills are decades old and I do not trust my search to have found such a law if it exists, which is why I am replying for the US.

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