instagram-terms-of-service

An Instagram employee takes a video using Instagram’s new video function at Facebook’s corporate headquarters during a media event in Menlo Park, Calif. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

If you had to guess what documents are most central to your daily life and to your future possibilities, I’d wager many Americans would point to works like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Probably because they think that’s how they should answer.

I am the biggest fan of those documents, but that answer might not be entirely correct. Instead, I’d point you to those below-the-radar Terms of Service that populate the legal life of every app you use. And that means they populate your life too, like it or not.

I’ve written about terms of service before, and I find these tiny little, unassuming adhesion contracts to be fascinating. I wrote here about a change to the Snapchat ToS.

And for good measure, let me re-share a Venn diagram that explains the intersection of law and love. (Spoiler alert: It’s complicated.)

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition. love technology law

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition.

This past week I read a terrific article (by the similarly terrific Amy Wang) about efforts to make terms of service more understandable, especially to youngsters. (Hat-tip to Wayne Rainey for the lead on the article.)

The Washington Post story was driven by the January 4 release of a report called “Growing Up Digital,” which examined young people’s interactions with those ever-present tech marvels that transform—and complicate—our lives.

And where good things happen, I’m never surprised to see a lawyer in the mix. The story tells how one of the task force members was charged with trying to redraft the Instagram terms of service to make them understandable to teens and other humans.

So that’s what London-based privacy lawyer Jenny Afia did.

Here’s a bit from the story:

Lawyer Jenny Afia rewrote the Instagram terms of service so kids would know their privacy rights.

Lawyer Jenny Afia rewrote the Instagram terms of service so kids would know their privacy rights.

“Afia was a member of a ‘Growing Up Digital’ task force group convened by the Children’s Commissioner for England to study Internet use among teens and the concerns children might face as they grow up in the digital age. The group found more than a third of Internet users are younger than 18, with 12- to 15-year-olds spending more than 20 hours a week online. Most of those children have no idea what their privacy rights are, despite all of them agreeing to terms and conditions before starting their social media accounts, Afia said. The task force, which included experts from the public and private sector, worked for a year and released its report Wednesday [Jan. 4].”

If you’ve ever read terms of service (and I hope you do), the next statement won’t surprise you: “The group ran Instagram’s terms and conditions through a readability study and found that it registered at a postgraduate reading level, Afia said.”

Fascinating and important stuff. Though Instagram wouldn’t comment for the story (probably upon advice of the same lawyers who drafted their ToS), here’s hoping efforts like this make a dent in the way these important, meaning-laden documents are drafted.

Once again, here’s a link to the complete Post story.

And you can read the complete “Growing Up Digital” report here.

A vintage building in downtown Phoenix could house a vibrant restaurant called The Dressing Room. A Kickstarter campaign could play a part.

A vintage building in downtown Phoenix could house a vibrant restaurant called The Dressing Room. A Kickstarter campaign could play a part.

Last week, I got a nudge from friend and gallery-owner Wayne Rainey. He was alerting me (and probably everyone he knows) about a restaurant startup that has the potential to make a big difference on Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix. In case you don’t know, Roosevelt Street is a place that is making a big difference in the City of Phoenix (and has been for years), and is even getting national attention for its vibrancy and artist-focused approach. (Here is just one recent example of the buzz smart Phoenicians have been able to create).

The restaurant initiative is called The Dressing Room, and I happily clicked through to read more; my experience is, if Wayne is involved, it is worth looking at.

I saw that it was a Kickstarter campaign, and I read all the information available about the chefs and their vision. Heads up: The Kickstarter closes on Tuesday, Feb. 24. You can read about it here.

And then I did something I don’t always do as I read Kickstarter pages: I watched the video.

Why? I don’t know. At least part of the reason is that hoped Wayne had directed and/or conceptualized it, as I would then be assured it would be compelling and watchable.

It was all that, but something else in the video leads me to share the Kickstarter with you today: I spotted some lawyers—good ones, too!

The video offers the chef–proprietors—Troy Watkins and Kyu Utsunomiya—the opportunity to explain their vision and their building plans. Both are ambitious; the rooftop dining area alone would make the restaurant a neighborhood favorite. From there, diners and imbibers could view the skyline, the sunset, and even the throngs of First Friday attendees. It’s a great idea.

But the video also let us view a casual dinner, hosted in Wayne Rainey’s monOrchid Gallery next door. There, the chefs presented sample dishes, and a gathering of neighborhood, business, and arts advocates noshed and chatted.

That alone would be enough for me to share this with friends and possible investors. But then I spotted two attorneys in the video.

monOrchid Gallery

monOrchid Gallery

I have come to know Nicole France Stanton pretty well over the years, and she is now the managing partner at the Phoenix office of Quarles & Brady.

Edward Hermes also appears in and speaks in the video. He is a Quarles associate attorney and practices in the firm’s Commercial Litigation and Indian Law Groups.

Nicole Stanton

Nicole Stanton

They and others spoke eloquently in the video about what makes a restaurant more than a site to find food. These are people who understand placemaking and urban vibrancy.

(Also present in the video is Upward Projects partner Lauren Bailey. Don’t know Upward? You may know their work. They own and run restaurants like Postino, Federal Pizza, Windsor and Joyride Taco. Having her attend the dinner and be in the video is a pretty positive sign for the restaurateurs. I reached out to Lauren for her thoughts on The Dressing Room concept. I haven’t heard back, but I’ll update this post if she contacts me.)

Late last week, I called Nicole Stanton to find out what attracted her to this venture.

The self-described “longtime friend and supporter” of Wayne told me she “loves the space and the story”—not to mention the food.

“I was intrigued because we are always looking for places to meet clients. Sometimes, you want something off the beaten trail.”

Stanton says she is always pleased to show off the neighborhood known as Roosevelt Row.

“Roosevelt Row makes us a real city. You have to have a vibrant arts community,” and that’s what you find there, she says.

“These are the folks who built the fabric of our city,” she continues. Roosevelt “expands your vision of what downtown is.”

She describes the food as terrific and “creative, comfortable, yet firmly grounded,” and she speaks more broadly about what comprises “the flavoring for the city.”

Local business owners are the life blood of the community. You never know who the next Sam Fox will be. We should be promoting their success.”

(Stanton also mentions another favorite restaurant. Oven + Vine is in midtown, and I agree that it is wonderful.)

As Wayne says in the video, “This is about feeding our community.” If you have ever been moved by the downtown artists district, you may want to head over to the Kickstarter page to learn more. And if you find some spare bills in your pocket, all the better.