You Need to be Tracking The Versioning of Your Terms of Service. Here's Why.

Jul 20, 2015 1:16:00 PM

Our world isn't static. Your online legal agreements aren't either. If you're working as an attorney that oversees this drafting process, you know that you're busy multiple times a year with revisions or updates that need to be published to keep your company protected and your consumers notified.

But test yourself: in a worst case scenario, would you be able to quickly and easily identify the agreement to which a given consumer had assented? For most, it's a long, difficult process that requires large expenditures of time and resources to find the proper data to tie an individual user to a single version of an agreement.

That process doesn't allow for any shortcuts, either. If your method of establishing proof relies on anything that comes in the form of a printout or screenshot of your current site, that just won't cut it. A federal court in Illinois failed to grant "judicial notice" to a screenshotted and printed terms-of-use page submitted by the defendants in an attempt to dismiss the case. Attorney Paul Porvaznik breaks down the case, Van Tassell v. United Marketing Group, LLC, further here:

"One of the on-line vendor defendants moved to dismiss the complaint and attached screenshots of on-line enrollment forms, which contained pro-merchant disclaimer language. The defendant asked the court to take judicial notice of the enrollment pages since they were printed off the Internet.

But the court refused to take judicial notice of the Web pages. In their response to the motion, the plaintiffs filed affidavits stating they never viewed the enrollment pages. They (the plaintiffs) also didn't refer to the enrollment pages in their Complaint. As a result, the Web enrollment pages weren't properly before the court on a motion to dismiss since on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court typically only considers the face of a complaint and any documents "central" to a complaint."

We've already told you that less-than-half of sites online are taking the minimum precautions necessary of simply listing a date or timestamp of the last update to an agreement. Only 18% are making versions of old agreements available for a consumer's consumption. Adding these two features can help courts identify what agreements were agreed to at a given time -- but they're only a factor. There's still a massive data-mining process that must occur to validate these pieces of evidence.

Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a Digital Legal Engine that could track and register all the acceptances of all the agreements across your website?

Well, let's just say that we know a guy.

Sign up for a demo today and learn how PactSafe manages this process -- so you don't have to worry about it.

Watch the PactSafe demo today!

Kyle Robbins

Written by Kyle Robbins