Accepting AVOS Transfer of Delicious Data May Not Be What You Think It Is

The news that AVOS, a company from YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, was buying Delicious (a bookmarking service) from Yahoo! was met with applause from most Delicious users, who’d seen their favorite service existing solely on life support since the Yahoo! purchase.  Now, things aren’t looking so rosy.

Users are receiving invitations upon Delicious login and via email to move their data from the old Delicious platform to the new AVOS setup.  Most are likely just clicking through without reading the terms they’re accepting.

These transition requests are not unusual on the Web, of course.  Often when a company purchases another, it requires users to physically accept (by clicking) the terms and service.  It’s all for legal reasons, of course.  What’s the matter here then?

The big problem is in the new Privacy Policy from AVOS.  It includes link censorship for what is loosely termed as “offensive content.”  Unlike the former linking terms, which said that links were the users’ responsibility and not Delicious’, the new terms AVOS is taking responsibility and disallowing users from linking content that could be considered “offensive.”

From the new AVOS terms:

You agree not to do any of the following: post, upload, publish, submit or transmit any Content that: (…) violates, or encourages any conduct that would violate, any applicable law or regulation or would give rise to civil liability; (iii) is fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive; (iv) is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive (…)

That doesn’t seem like much, since it’s just blocking offensive stuff.  Right?  Well…

What if you’re a torrent freak?  Those are largely now being considered “illegal.”  What if you’re organizing a protest rally that is “anti government”?  What about if you link to a friend’s blog not realizing that a link there leads to an illegal copy of an MP3 protected by RIAA?  All of those, and more, could lead to immediate account deletion and the loss of all of your bookmarks.

The issue here is that the terms they use to describe what is not allowed anymore are vague and ill-defined.  Most of them are subjective, even the courts agree to that.

In short, this is no longer Delicious.  It’s something else.

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