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Norwegian Consumer Council tackles 'convoluted' iCloud terms

updated 02:38 pm EDT, Wed May 14, 2014

iCloud 'particularly bad' next to other cloud services

The Norwegian Consumer Council has filed a formal complaint about the terms and condition's for Apple's iCloud, charging that they violate several articles of Norwegian law concerning product marketing. Earlier in 2014, the Council conducted a survey of the terms for several cloud storage services in the Norwegian market, as part of a broader effort at improving terms for all digital services available to Norwegians. Based on data from that survey, the complaint alleges that iCloud's terms are "particularly bad," measuring some 8,600 words and ultimately "convoluted and unclear."

A problem the Council has with several cloud services is that their terms allow them to shut off access without reason; some services have access to the contents of files. iCloud is claimed to be worse still however, since Apple is the only company granting itself the right to change terms at any time without telling users.

Unilateral power over changing an agreement is said to violate Section 22 of Norway's Marketing Act. "We are convinced that all parties are better served with more user-friendly terms. Apple offers to store valuable information on behalf of its users, but gives itself the right to amend the agreement at its sole discretion," writes Finn Myrstad, the head of the digital services unit at the Council. "As consumers, we are left with no real rights or security. Receiving notice when terms change should be a bare minimum requirement. The fact that this can be done without informing the users is unacceptable."

The Council has shared both the complaint and the survey with the European Commission's Expert Group on Cloud Service Contracts. The findings could influence recommendations from the Expert Group that are due to be published in several months.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 03-24-09

    Blanket statement about iCloud without comparing how other cloud storage systems operate is poor reporting. The T&Cs are written to satisfy lawyers who will challenge anything do it has to be long and verbose since lawyers can't operate any other way.

  1. jdonahoe

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    I would guarantee that 99.99% of cloud services users don't read any of the terms other than whether they're free or not. The same percentage ignores the updated terms emails they get later.

  1. chimaera

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-08-07

    Suppose Apple were required to give an intelligence agency a copy of all stored data. They could silently amend the agreement to allow this. Stop new registrations for the ~5 minutes needed to do the copy, so no one gets presented with the revised agreement. Then silently change the agreement back.

    Contract agreements that one party can silently change means the other party (ie - us) have inconsistent rights. It's a power imbalance, and I'd call it unfair. I agree with the Norwegians. At a bare minimum, there must be notice of each change. I'd go further, requiring advance notice like banks do, so users can opt out.

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