crazyscot: black (black)
posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 10:55am on 05/04/2017 under , ,
I have made the decision to leave LJ, because of their new Terms of Service.

I am upset at being coerced into agreeing to a new ToS without prior notice. I was required to click to agree in order to continue using the site, and forcibly logged out if I clicked "Not Now".

The English ToS explicitly says that it is "not a legally binding document" and that the Russian version prevails. For a non-Russian speaker this clause is unconscionable and likely unenforceable. Of course this is unlikely to ever reach a court; SUP would just ToS you if they didn't like the cut of your jib (s2.5).

Assuming the English translation is broadly correct, and taking it at face value, I am upset with the unilateral involvement of Russian domestic law in the user agreement. Some specific qualms with it follow.

  • Users (s7.4) and communities (8.4) are subject to article 10.2 of Federal Act 149-ФЗ (by the way that's a Cyrillic Z, not a number 3) of the Russian Federation if they receive more than 3000 accesses within 24 hours. I found an English text of Act 149-FZ. Article 10.2 is several pages long but includes provisions (inter alia) requiring registration of all such blogs and bloggers with an implicitly Russian government body, and bloggers must verify all information that they post. While doubt I'm anywhere near the 3000 viewers threshold, I object to the idea of being non-consensually registered with an overseas government body, without the privacy protections that I expect, if my activity meets their arbitrary threshold.

  • Users are required (9.1.3) to use the Adult Content mechanism to indicate where content is inappropriate for children according to Russian law. I don't know what Russian law says about appropriateness for children, how the norms and mores might differ from where I live, and there's no reasonable way for me to keep up to date with them.

  • Users are required (9.2.7) to not post adverts or "political solicitation" (whatever that means) without explicit agreement (permission?) from SUP. There is no guidance to what "political solicitation" means. As a moderately political person, without knowledge of the definition of solicitation, I am concerned that the occasional political post I make might inadvertently fall foul of this provision.

  • Users are required (9.2.8) to not perform any actions contrary to the laws of the Russian Federation. Given Russia's stance towards the LGBTQ+ community, this is unconscionable for me.

  • SUP claim the right (10.6) to change any level of service without prior notice. Such a unilateral right of change is grossly unbalanced and unreasonable.

  • Any unresolved disputes between users and SUP are to be settled in (implicitly) Russian courts (13.3). To be fair I don't think this is a new term when it comes to online services in general, but this massively disempowers users outside of Russia, and that's before one considers the merits of engaging with an unfamiliar legal system.

  • The entire TOS explicitly doesn't apply to paid accounts (13.4), referring them on to Live Journal Inc. As a permanent account holder, which the site treats as a paid account, I was coerced into agreeing to the new TOS - which explicitly don't apply to me - in order to continue using the site. This clearly hasn't been thought through, but is what I've come to expect from SUP in terms of how they treat their users.


On top of all that, considering that the LJ servers are now physically hosted in Russia (since December 2016), it's a pretty safe bet that all traffic into and out of LJ is available to the Russian security services in real-time, and who knows what they might be doing with it.

So this is my final crosspost from Dreamwidth. Unless there are significant changes to the ToS within the next week or so, I will be deleting my LJ account. I cannot and will not continue to use it.

Will the last person out please turn off the lights?

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