Dropbox: Now With Convenient Arbitration

Hi {FriendlyFirstName},

I so seldom receive email from Dropbox that I was surprised to see an item in my inbox from them. I was even more surprised by the first bullet point on the list. Let me recount it for you:

We’re adding an arbitration section to our updated Terms of Service. Arbitration is a quick and efficient way to resolve disputes, and it provides an alternative to things like state or federal courts where the process could take months or even years. If you don’t want to agree to arbitration, you can easily opt out via an online form, within 30-days of these Terms of Service becoming effective. This form, and other details, are available on our blog.

If you want to keep someone from opting out, make sure you tell them about all kinds of vague, nasty things that might happen to them. Like being locked up in court for “years”.

Dropbox, as a service, exists mainly to host your content for yourself, and to facilitate sharing the content with a select group of people. Exactly how would I enter in to a situation with Dropbox, as a company, where I would be sued by them? Any person paying for Dropbox service won’t even go to collections, or anything, their service just gets cut off. How could one be sued by Dropbox? I suppose if you are the sort that does nefarious things, then I guess this is the arbitration you’re looking for.

If you are a law-abiding Average Joe (ahem) then arbitration only exists to protect Dropbox, the company, from its users pursuing legal action against them.

I worry that:

  1. Dropbox would like to be acquired, and would like to avoid any legal entanglements.
  2. Dropbox is worried about being held liable for a hypothetical breach of security. Either through an external agent, or negligence.
  3. Dropbox is considering doing things with the data being stored on its service other than storing said data, in oh, I don’t know, a box, and want to protect themselves from suit during this pivot.
  4. Dropbox TOS also includes Mailbox, which handles very critical components of your email. Which, as we know, never gets handed out, or monitored, or anything. Totally unrelated to any government data requests.

Sure, I’m not a lawyer, and as such, this is not legal advice, but I see no upside to arbitration. Here’s an oldie, but a goodie, from John Timmer at ArsTechnica.

If you happen to have this email, I recommend you read it, because you’ll also notice that there are direct links everywhere else in the email to specific things Dropbox discusses in the email except for arbitration. That can be “found” on their blog. Emphasis is obviously not on users opting out. It is one of the curious differences between the mass-emailing and the blog post. Here’s the opt out form.

Thanks for reading!

— The Unauthoritative Pronouncements Team

2014-02-26 00:26:21

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