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Why we open source our terms of service

By Alain Meier on October 9, 2015

Terms of service is on GitHub

Most people don’t read terms of service. For some products, it’s not a huge deal - but for ones like ours, it’s imperative that our customers understand what they’re agreeing to. It’s easy to obfuscate your terms of service and update it on a whim forcing your customers to manage their own copies of past terms and create their own red-lined comparisons.

We at BlockScore want to take a different approach to our public contracts. We believe that the burden of contractual clarity is on the seller, not the buyer, so we maintain all of our most important contracts, like our terms of service and privacy policy, in a version controlled repository on GitHub. Not only does this allow customers to track changes that occurred since they signed up, but it also gives them the ability to understand how and why our contracts have evolved to become what they are today.

Our industry, the identity information space, has very complex and stringent regulations. As a result, our contracts and those of our competitors can be difficult to keep track of. We hope that by putting our standard contract online in an easy to understand, versioned format we will be able to help our customers save money on legal overhead. When your customers better understand what you expect of them, they are also better able to comply with your requirements.

We don’t believe that our industry is unique. Many companies can benefit from having more open and transparent contracts. At its most basic level, version controlling your company’s terms of service requires very little work but pays dividends for your customers.

Plans for the future

At the moment, we work with our lawyer to draft new versions of our contracts and then upload the new version in one commit. In the future, we would like to be able to break each change down into its own individual commit affording us the ability to explain every change that occurs. Of course this requires more resources and time, so it will remain something to aspire to for now.

You can read the latest version of our terms on our website.

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