Today I received a message that domain/hosting provider GoDaddy has updated its terms of service. Here is the relevant part of the message:
We recently made changes to the Universal Terms of Service Agreement affecting your Go Daddy® products and services. We are sending this email to all Go Daddy customers to make you aware of the following changes:
Section 1 (Overview)
We added language to provide that changes or modifications to the Universal Terms of Service Agreement will be effective upon posting to the Go Daddy website. You will be able to tell when the Agreement has been updated by looking at the “Last Revised” date at the top of the Agreement.
Section 8 (Additional Reservation of Rights)
We added language to assist with our fraud and abuse detection and prevention efforts.
Section 15 (Fees and Payments)
We added language to explain the differences between multi-currency product pricing and multi-currency transaction processing for products and services displayed on our website.
We updated the service fees associated with the “Pay By Check” payment option should your electronic check be returned unpaid.
Section 16 (Unclaimed Property; Dormancy Charges)
We added a new section to address the Revised Arizona Unclaimed Property Act.
This email shall serve as our official notification to you the above-referenced changes, all of which shall be effective immediately. Please take a moment to review the latest version of the Universal Terms of Service Agreement, which may be found here. Your continued use of Go Daddy products and services shall constitute your acceptance of the Agreement as last revised.
Section 8 (my emphasis) caught my eye. I searched around to see if anyone had pinpointed what was this change and I found an excellent project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation called TOSBack, a site dedicated to backtracking changes in Terms of Service pages. The page had some hiccups to sift through the various revisions of the file and pointing out the exact changes between the previous and the latest (as of Jan 2011) versions, but here’s what changed in Section 8:
8. ADDITIONAL RESERVATION OF RIGHTS
Go Daddy expressly reserves the right to deny, cancel, terminate, suspend, lock, or modify access to (or control of) any Account or Services (including the right to cancel or transfer any domain name registration)
that it deems necessary, in its sole and absolute discretion,for any reason (as determined by Go Daddy in its sole and absolute discretion), including but not limited to the following:
- to correct mistakes made by Go Daddy in offering or delivering any Services (including any domain name registration),
- to protect the integrity and stability of, and correct mistakes made by, any domain name registry,
- to assist with our fraud and abuse detection and prevention efforts,
- to comply with applicable local, state, national and international laws, rules and regulations,
- to comply with requests of law enforcement, including subpoena requests,
- to comply with any dispute resolution process,
- to defend any legal action or threatened legal action without consideration for whether such legal action or threatened legal action is eventually determined to be with or without merit, or
- to avoid any civil or criminal liability on the part of Go Daddy, its officers, directors, employees and agents, as well as Go Daddy’s affiliates.
Go Daddy expressly reserves the right to review every Account for excessive space and bandwidth utilization, and to terminate or apply additional fees to those Accounts that exceed allowed levels.
(Note: I changed the numbered items to bullets in order to avoid adding noise to the diff by having to renumber them.)
So, basically GoDaddy says it “added language to assist with our fraud and abuse detection and prevention efforts”, while silently adding language that says they can cancel your account for any reason and that the causes include but are not limited to the list presented (thus rendering the list meaningless).
So, the new wording of the Terms of Service allows GoDaddy to terminate service without providing any reason whatsoever to their customers. I wonder if this has anything to do with the recent crackdowns on domain names and demands for companies to comply with the government in secrecy.