UFC-Que Choisir gets hundreds of terms removed from Twitter's policy


The English version of the by UFC-Que Choisir

Published on: 08/08/2018

After more than 4 years of procedure, no less than 4 different versions of the contract documents analysed due to constant changes made by Twitter, BEUC’s French member - UFC-Que Choisir welcomes a first and important victory in its long-standing fight to guarantee consumer rights’ protection and in particular, the control of users’ personal data when using the main social networks. Indeed, the French association obtained, on 7th August 2018, by the first instance Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris), the sentence ordering Twitter to remove more than 250 unfair and/or illegal terms present in its "Terms of Use", "Confidentiality Policy" and "Twitter Rules" (ruling likely to be appealed). The social network is also sentenced to €30,000 in damages and has the obligation to make the judgment publicly available to consumers from the homepage of its platform.

In particular, the General Court considered unfair and/or unlawful the terms that had the effect of:

·        considering personal data as "public" data by default;

·        freely transferring personal data to another country without further details;

·        declaring itself irresponsible in the case of a data security breach leading to leak of personal data;

·        copying, adapting, modifying, selling the posted or future contents of the users, including those protected by the right of intellectual property, to any beneficiary on any support, without preliminary authorisation;

·        closing a user's account, in particular by keeping his/her name without limitation of time;

·        modifying the 25 pages of "general conditions of use", partly referring to English content, without systematically informing users;

·        using too heavily hypertext links (38 to access a dozen of other documents!), making it impossible for the consumer to effectively see his rights and duties.

The terms thus pinned are deemed unwritten and therefore unenforceable to Twitter users, who must be able to regain full control over the use and dissemination of their contents.
In addition, by invalidating modified terms in the course of proceedings, the Court gives a clear signal to the social network, and more broadly to all professionals.
Henceforth it is futile to try to rewrite disputed terms during the proceedings in order to escape the radar of Justice.

While BEUC’s French member – UFC-Que Choisir is expecting other decisions that will soon intervene regarding the general conditions/privacy policy of Facebook and Google, the French association is already very pleased that the French Justice formally recognises the fact that social networks must allow each user to be fully informed of their contractual conditions, in particular to keep full control of their personal data!