Dropbox's terms of service changes met with anger in user comments

Many online companies like to revise their terms of service statements from time to time and this week Dropbox announced that's exactly what it will be doing starting on March 24th. The cloud storage company revealed its plans via email alerts and on its official blog.

In the blog post, one of the changes that was mentioned was that Dropbox will be adding a way to use arbitration to settle disputes between the company and its users. The blog states that Dropbox feels that such a move is a "faster way" to settle such cases. However, going to the actual terms of service page itself reveals something else. Dropbox will now prohibit its users from entering any class action lawsuits made against it.

It's that particular alteration that has caused many people to get upset in the Dropbox blog user comments. One person wrote, "Shame on you dropbox (sic). There is nothing more anti-american than a binding arbitration clause that requires folks to waive there (sic) right to a jury trial." Dropbox will allow users to opt out of arbitration within 30 days of agreeing to the new Terms of Services.

Some of the other changes that are being made include more details about how Dropbox handles requests by government agencies for information about their customers and adding the Mailbox app to the company's Terms of Service agreement. The company ended its blog post by saying that ultimately, their commitment to keeping data stored by their users safe remains the same, saying, "We don’t sell your personal information to third parties. We don’t serve ads based on the stuff you store in our services. And, as always, your stuff is yours."

Source: Dropbox blog | Dropbox image via Shutterstock

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56 Comments

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As Bill Foster said in the film "Falling down" I'm just protecting my rights as a consumer.

If you want my opinon, EULA's, TOS etc are all way too long for people to read with some of them being over 200-300 pages long. They should simply be a list of what your actually agreeing too.

I don't know how it works in the US but in the EU no ToS is above any law. All and any laws conflicting with the ToS will invalidate the ToS.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
I don't know how it works in the US but in the EU no ToS is above any law. All and any laws conflicting with the ToS will invalidate the ToS.

TOS is not a contract.

A shame about the new TOS but it really will not stop me from using Dropbox. Is it legal or not legal what they are doing, well I am not a layer and I doubt I would ever have the money to take Dropbox to court for any type of action, before or after the new TOS. For me they provide a great service and have had no problems, although I make a bi-weekly backup which I put away, just to be safe.

100% guarantee NONE of you objectors would be affected by this in anyway... quit crying about something that will never apply to you.

TBH, I cant see dropbox and other mid size companies (along with plenty of lower level players) competing for too long. At the end of the day they cant build their own data centers, never mind multiple datacentre 'nodes' around the world, they also cant develop their own underlying software for their data centres (that don't exist afaik).

I am really all for competition, I really am but I simply cant imagine anyone offering a better than onedrive service (Unless there is some specific have to have right now feature) at the same price points with the same features along with the obvious aggressive roadmap - they really do want to win here..

Edited by duddit2, Feb 22 2014, 1:42am :

The terms of service are rules, if you agree to those rules that becomes an agreement which is then a contract. That contract is enforceable. Arbitration has become very common in the US.

you do know that a contract can become null if it's proven to be made by bad faith or has illegal stipulations? A TOS can be render void if it is proven that it's illegal in the current law.

If the law says you can start legal action again company xyz but the companies TOS say you can't then surely you still can because the law beats it

exotoxic said,
If the law says you can start legal action again company xyz but the companies TOS say you can't then surely you still can because the law beats it

Have you ever dealt with a lawyer in court before?

"Why did you continue to use the service, sir, if you did not agree to these terms of the service?"

As much as folks are moaning over this, their email they sent out to everyone spelled out the changes in reasonably clear language. That's a lot better than say, Apple, who presents you with god knows what when iTunes gets an incremental update.

Shadrack said,

"Why did you continue to use the service, sir, if you did not agree to these terms of the service?"

Because their TOS is invalid as it is against the law?

that's void in court if your local law grants you rights to use it (law > TOS); yesterday just talked to a lawyer regarding warranties, as an example, and it pretty much summed like this: the law says "a", but company xyz says "b" ("b" being inferior to "a"); if one goes to court then "a" wins because it's the country/Europe law and that takes precedence to whatever "b" that company says.

Praetor said,
that's void in court if your local law grants you rights to use it (law > TOS); yesterday just talked to a lawyer regarding warranties, as an example, and it pretty much summed like this: the law says "a", but company xyz says "b" ("b" being inferior to "a"); if one goes to court then "a" wins because it's the country/Europe law and that takes precedence to whatever "b" that company says.

Exactly! That's the thing why vast parts of EULAs are invalid in the EU…

I dont understand why people still use these online cloud base storage systems when it's much cheaper to run your own.

So is running your own.*

And I don't know why anyone would use cloud services given the issues related with it.

i_was_here said,
Maybe they want a remote backup in addition to local backup?

Would be far cheaper and more reliable rotating a hard drive between home and work/family/friends/safe deposit box/etc.

LogicalApex said,

Would be far cheaper and more reliable rotating a hard drive between home and work/family/friends/safe deposit box/etc.


Not to mention more secure.

I thought this was common in all service agreements and EULAs.

Seem to recall one from Microsoft for oh, Windows 98 that said something that you could only sue the company once in your lifetime to a maximum of $5 in damages.

I'm happy it stops people from suing them. People are way to fracking Sue happy! It's a fracking free service. Go somewhere else. If you are going to use the free service you need to do 2 key things

1) Grow a pare of balls
2) keep some other kind of backup.

Edited by warwagon, Feb 21 2014, 10:20pm :

Well even if you use their paid plan, keep a local backup. I mean the only way they would loose something of yours is if they had the only copy and it some how got deleted in which case the person is still an idiot for not having a backup.

warwagon said,
I'm happy it stops people from suing them. People are way to fracking Sue happy! It's a fracking free service. Go somewhere else. If you are going to use the free service you need to do 2 key things

1) Grow a pare of balls
2) keep some other kind of backup.

Just because something is free doesn't give the other party license to do whatever the want. If I were to provide you free water service and you accepted that. It wouldn't give me license to seize ownership rights to your house...

Drop Box has to be able to be held accountable for its actions. Especially when people are entrusting them with important personal information today that could be treated completely differently than they expected tomorrow.

I saw this email. I'm not really thrilled about this kind of language in the ToS, but at the same time I was having a difficult time determining what I could possibly sue them over. As someone who just uses their free service, anyway. If they mess up my data, I should have my own local backup, right?

It will hold against customers, unless there is a flaw on the agreement that can be walked around. If its hard to circumvent, a court has no jurisdiction in a case like this and can be dismissed on this basis.

dxgs said,
It will hold against customers, unless there is a flaw on the agreement that can be walked around. If its hard to circumvent, a court has no jurisdiction in a case like this and can be dismissed on this basis.

On what basis do you assume that a court wouldn't have jurisdiction? I wasn't aware that court jurisdiction could be determined by the language of a contract...

LogicalApex said,

On what basis do you assume that a court wouldn't have jurisdiction? I wasn't aware that court jurisdiction could be determined by the language of a contract...


You are under the naïve impression that the branches of US government have equal power.

Jaybonaut said,
Such great timing with all this OneDrive stuff hitting the news.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too.. Pretty foolish of them.

Unfortunately, this is becoming standard practice with every service.

I can only hope consumer protection law is put in to place to over turn a lot of this (when valid).

Simple! Don't use their service. It's a free service for the majority of the users. Paid users can protest by deleting their accounts. If Dropbox feels this is hurting their bottom line, they might change the rules. But dropbox doesn't have a monopoly on online file storage. Users can use another service too.

Or you can, you know.. just opt out using the opt-out link as posted in the link/e-mail etc.

Plus, how many standard users are going to end up in a valid law-suit with dropbox... the reasons this could happen are very very slim if at all for the regular person.

Jason Stillion said,
Unfortunately, this is becoming standard practice with every service.

Bad luck for dropbox, they can't remove your legal rights (and any ability to take whatever legal action you like) via statements in their terms of service.

xendrome said,
Or you can, you know.. just opt out using the opt-out link as posted in the link/e-mail etc.

Plus, how many standard users are going to end up in a valid law-suit with dropbox... the reasons this could happen are very very slim if at all for the regular person.

If the possibility is so remote then why would they need to create this in the first place?

I think people attempting to sue would be far more likely than you elude to. Especially "regular" users who may use it as a primary storage medium for stuff they can't easily replace. Technical users understand the point of backups along with multiple copies yet it is often ignored. "Regular" users tend to have none at all.

If Drop Box, for one reason or another, had data corruption, loss, or accidental access the user likely would end up attempting to collect damages in court. Not very remote of an idea. Drop Box didn't add this for nothing... I'm sure there are a fair bit of cases that prompted this action.

dvb2000 said,

Bad luck for dropbox, they can't remove your legal rights (and any ability to take whatever legal action you like) via statements in their terms of service.


Pretty sure they can. Dropbox won't discriminate against you or rape you (literarily),
so arbitration is a requirement - you cannot go to the court.

This is just the latest method for companies to avoid liability. While I appreciate that the legal system is frequently abused, especially in terms of frivolous lawsuits, this to me is a clear step too far. Any company that can prevent customers from suing it will do so because that means lower legal costs and larger profit margins.

The only way to address this is to enshrine consumer protections in law to prevent such behaviour.

theyarecomingforyou said,
This is just the latest method for companies to avoid liability. While I appreciate that the legal system is frequently abused, especially in terms of frivolous lawsuits, this to me is a clear step too far. Any company that can prevent customers from suing it will do so because that means lower legal costs and larger profit margins.

The only way to address this is to enshrine consumer protections in law to prevent such behaviour.


Good luck with that.

No they can't. Legal rights always overrule illegal conditions in any terms of service. And making arbitration obligatory IS illegal in this country.

dvb2000 said,

Bad luck for dropbox, they can't remove your legal rights (and any ability to take whatever legal action you like) via statements in their terms of service.

They might be able to in some countries (I can't name any, nor claim to), but not every country has weak consumer laws that allow this behaviour. In Australia for example, a company cannot override our consumer laws, no matter what BS it wants to print in their agreements.