Bright Terms
James Ward
James Ward • Jul 15

Bright Terms

by James J Ward

When we tell people that they should read our privacy policy or our terms and conditions, we get a lot of funny looks and the occasional dad joke. (“If I need to fall asleep, I sure will!“)  It’s a reasonable response, given that most app/online policy documents are dozens of pages long, filled with legal jargon, and designed to be ambiguous.  We should know: as lawyers, some of us have had to draft terms and conditions before and they’re just as stultifyingly boring to write as they are to read.

We have made an extraordinary effort to create terms and other governing documents that are understandable, transparent, and easy to read.  They don’t rely on tricky phrases that hide what’s being done (like “We use your data to improve our services” without any further explanation).  Instead, they lay out exactly what we do with data and user information as we receive it.  We’ve gone out of our way to make sure that they do two things:

  1. Give an honest explanation of what we’re doing and why, and
  2. Give an understandable explanation of what we’re doing and why.

“Fine,” you may say, “your terms are clearly written, but what difference does that really make?  Don’t companies promise privacy and security all the time?”  That’s a fair point, but we think that times are changing, and we’re committed to being on the leading edge of those changes.  Simply making blanket claims about “being better” or “we take your privacy seriously” won’t do any more, both because the laws are changing but, more importantly, because social media users are too.  We’re becoming much more focused on privacy and how our digital life affects the rest of our life.

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Bright’s policies are a reflection of this change, and an attempt to be honest and open from the beginning.  That’s much different than what we normally experience online, but it’s intentional.  Bright believes that good communication and openness are essential to building a community, but that can’t just be a rule for Members: the principle applies to us, too.  Given that the terms and conditions are one of the first things we ask people to agree to, loading them with intentionally misleading legal jargon is hardly a good way to show that we mean what we say.  And, just as importantly, giving Members a clear idea of what we’re doing means that if we don’t do what we say, they can help keep us accountable.  Openness, clarity, accountability -- words we’re trying to live by.

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James Ward
James Ward

James Ward is a lawyer, privacy advocate, and fan of listing things in threes. Nothing he says here should be considered legal advice/don’t get legal advice from social media posts. He promises he’s not as smug as he looks in his profile picture.

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