We have the right to remain silent… Or do we? Please check the EULA

I was in the heart of Gadong yesterday having lunch with a couple of friends at the only McDonald’s in Brunei and after a quick trip to The Mall we found out they were distributing flags which would seem like a nice thing but their tactics get me a bit wound up. Let me say first that I do believe in patriotism and I will celebrate my country’s upcoming 25th National Day but I believe in asking permission when handling other people’s property. The methods used in distributing some of these flags in the Gadong area was that the people in charge would stick the flag onto your parked vehicle without your prior knowledge. Would some lawyer care to help me to explain to me the legality of this or whether we have the right to protest it? They have done this last year as well and I’m not too sure about the previous years but I take offence to the fact that an unauthorized person is leaving their mark on somebody else’s property. Isn’t that similar to defacing public property or graffiti?

And it was just a day after that incident that I read the new issue about Facebook’s New Terms of Service. Each time we install software we agreed to a EULA (end user license agreement) which dictates how we are supposed to use the piece of software. With online services like Facebook there are the “Terms of Service” / “Terms of Use” by which we inherently agree to when we use the service, whether we bother to read the terms or not. The following is what Facebook has to say about your (/their?) content:

You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

Facebook basically states that they have the rights to use any content of yours for any purpose they like without asking you for permission. This problem has been around for quite a long time and was noticed by Jan Shim. For all content creators out there I hope this is a wake up call to all of your and for non-content creators there is still something else to worry about with online services and especially social sites such as Facebook, and that is privacy / identity issues. LSM’s take on this is dealt out in his article entitled “My identity in the hands of strangers”. On top of that I will add Andy ITGuy’s post on “25 Random Reasons I Won’t Tell You 25 Random Things About Me”.

So before you go on registering for that website offering you some great deals or just so you can read an article, perhaps you should reconsider your actions of signing away a bit of your personal information…. Or just check BugMeNot to see if you can just sign in using readily available credentials.

**Update 18th Feb 2009: It seems that Facebook has reverted back to the previous Terms of Service as told by founder, Mark Zuckerberg after the user uproar. A good sign that at least they are listening to users feedback and possibly taking a little page out of Google’s book with Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto

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