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Comment Period Open for AO3 Terms of Service Updates

The Legal committee of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW, the AO3’s parent organization) worked with the Archive of Our Own team to update AO3’s Terms of Service (ToS). This update is focused on data privacy, and on explaining in more detail how we process the data you give us while you use AO3. Below, you can read a summary of the changes. There’s also a full version of the updated ToS available for your review (HTML, PDF, Word).

Data collection

We only collect the information we need to offer certain features (such as kudos, which require us to log IP addresses for guests), and to share the content you provide in your works, comments, and profile pages.

We will never sell your personal information to third parties. The OTW does not run ads on AO3, and will never use your information to market third-party content to you. To learn more about what we can and cannot do with the data you provide, please read the Privacy Policy section in the proposed ToS text. Although we’ve added quite a bit to clarify the policy, the ToS represent current and longstanding OTW and AO3 practice.

Age policy

We’ve also made some changes to the minimum age at which you can create an AO3 account, in accordance with the European Union’s new data privacy regulations (GDPR). While the general minimum age remains at 13 years old, there are specific requirements for those who reside in the EU. We’re very sorry to inconvenience current users who may be in this age range; you are very welcome to rejoin AO3 once you’re old enough to do so!

If you are under 16 years old and live in the European Union, please check your country’s current age of consent for data processing. You must be of age in your country of residence to give us consent to use your data in order to use the Archive, or else we can’t legally, for example, store your kudos or comments (even as a guest!). This is very, very important: If you live in the European Union, please check whether you are of age to use the Archive without us having to ask your legal guardian and/or parent(s) for their written consent.

Once these ToS changes have gone into effect, everyone who visits the Archive will be asked to confirm that they agree with the new ToS, which includes stating that they are of age to use AO3.

We are legally required to remove accounts belonging to age-barred users. Now is a good time to review your profile and works for any outdated information about your age!

Summary of changes

The proposed Terms of Service contain some minor language changes (such as capitalization and punctuation) for clarification, and the following significant additions and changes:

  • We added an item to the ‘What We Believe’ section stating that we do not sell data, and clarifying that different OTW websites have their own ToSs, adding links to them.
  • We clarified that future changes to the AO3 Terms of Service should be published on AO3. (They always were anyway, but we figured we should make it explicit.)
  • We added the new AO3 age policy (as described above) in compliance with the GDPR for EU users between the ages of 13 and 16, and added references to hiding/deleting accounts and content submitted by age-barred users.
  • We defined data processing in the context of AO3 and explained that by using the Archive, you are giving us your consent to process the data you submit in order to maintain the site. This includes things like displaying your works and comments to others. Please remember that any information you choose to share publicly (for example, in your open works, profile or comments) will be available to everyone.
  • We explained in which contexts we collect your IP address, e-mail address and other user-specific information such as Favorite Tags and any errors you may encounter while browsing, and what we use this information for.

This ToS update essentially underscores a commitment we have always made: the Archive is not here to profit from fans, or to collect data about your fanwork browsing habits and sell them. We have never done that; we will never do that.

It is part of our mission and values to respect your privacy, and to collect and store as little data as we can. That being said, we know that our community routinely shares information about personal relationships, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual orientation in profiles, work notes, bookmarks, tags, comments and works. Since these are “special categories of personal data” under the GDPR, we needed to add that information explicitly to the ToS.

If you’ve ever made a donation to the OTW, our parent organization, rest assured that we don’t match up any data about the Archive’s users and the OTW’s donors. We take our commitment to preserving your fannish identities very seriously.

Please read the proposed changes to our ToS (HTML, PDF, Word) and leave your comments on this post with any questions, suggestions or feedback you might have about the proposed text. All comments must be received by May 23, 2018. After that, the OTW Board will vote on the final text of the Terms of Service.

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