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While you won’t be getting a new version of Chrome or Chrome OS for a while due to the coronavirus outbreak, Google has announced upcoming changes to its Terms of Service, effective March 31, that “make it easier for you to understand what we can expect from each other.” It’s the first time since October, 2017 that Google has updated the terms of service, and because you probably don’t want to read through the whole thing, we’ve summarized the important changes for you.
This section identifies the name and location of the company you’re contracting with (“Google LLC, organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, USA, and operating under the laws of the USA”) and that provides the services you use.
This new section clearly states that anyone under the minimum age required to manage a Google account (13 in the U.S. and most other places) must have a parent or legal guardian’s permission to use the service.
What you can expect from Google, what Google expects from you
These sections have clearer language regarding the services Google provides and rules of conduct for users.
Permission to use your content
While little has changed, Google has simplified the language and clarified that it won’t publish your content publicly unlses you’ve previously made it visible to others. Google also clarifies the rights and duration (as long as your content is protected by intellectual property rights) of the license.
This section describes your and Google’s legal rights and has received numerous clarifications and updates. Where the section previously had a scary all-caps statement stating Google “WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST PROFITS, REVENUES, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES,” the new section is much easier to understand and read, explaining exactly what Google specifically won’t be responsible for. It also adds language limiting Google’s liability in the event of a breach to the greater of $500 or 125% of the fees that you paid to use the relevant services in the 12 months before the breach.
Taking action in case of problems
This is a new section that explains why Google might remove content from your account or suspend your account, as well as your recourse in the event that happens.
Settling disputes, governing law, and courts
This section explains which laws and courts Google will use to resolve any legal disputes. Google intends to keep all disputes local, legally speaking: “California law will govern all disputes,” the new terms say, adding, “these disputes will be resolved exclusively in the federal or state courts of Santa Clara County, California.” However, the company also allows that in some cases, “applicable local law” in other court jurisdictions may come into play.
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Michael Simon covers all things mobile for PCWorld and Macworld. You can usually find him with his nose buried in a screen. The best way to yell at him is on Twitter.