If you’re a Dropbox user, you probably got an email in the last few days about an update to their TOS that basically puts all disputes into arbitration rather than litigation.
If you’re like me, you probably glossed over this update because gah, legalese.
Allow me to summarize what it means when a company wants to handle all disputes in arbitration:
No matter what they do (delete your data, privacy breach, overcharging, whatever), you don’t get to sue. Instead, THEY get to choose the arbitrator according to whatever criteria they want, and thus any dispute is decided by someone they’re paying.
Also, you can’t join a class-action suit against them. Which sounds like no big deal, but when a company takes advantage of a bunch of people all in the same small way (incorrectly assessing a service charge, for example), class action is how companies are made to clean up their act en masse, instead of waiting for thousands of people to call them up and demand their $20 back or whatever.
I love Dropbox and use/recommend it enthusiastically. But this is a company that we entrust with some of our most important data- the kind of data we need to have access to wherever we are. Family photos, portfolios, projects representing years of work, etc. And as we’ve seen with Google buying Nest, even if we trust the management team in charge of our data right now, that’s not guaranteed in the future. Founders move on to other things. Companies with great products get acquired. Business decisions get made that change the direction of the company.
The agreement we make with Dropbox is too important to be enforced only by an arbitrator of their choosing. You have 30 days from the date of notification to opt out of the arbitration clause. Do it now.
[via Daring Fireball]
I love Dropbox, I’m an enthusiastic user and have gotten many friends and coworkers to integrate it into their computing life. I’m glad this came to my attention because the author of this post is right: arbitration clauses almost never benefit the consumer.