Every time you sign up for an online service you have to agree to the provider’s terms and conditions, which tend to be complex policies formatted in yawn-inducing blocks of text. These critical rules and regulations end up being ignored by all but the most vigilant of users.
The “TrueColours” extension from Stabilo was recently launched in Germany with the aim of alerting users to the crucial sections in a web platform’s terms and conditions. At present, it only works with German sites, but an English version is expected to arrive in a month’s time, according to Stabilo.
The tool’s creators claim that by overlooking a site’s guidelines you risk missing out on important information regarding your online privacy, among other things. It arrives amid growing scrutiny in Europe over the wider privacy implications of social networking and mobile apps.
Once installed, the TrueColours extension acts as both a warning system and annotation tool. When you visit the terms and conditions page of a website, it automatically highlights the most significant text (green for “noteworthy”, yellow for “questionable”, and red for “critical”). You can then skim through the extensive document and educate yourself on the policies that will impact you the most.
Like other web annotation tools, TrueColours is relying on its users to continue the process by highlighting terms and conditions across the web. If, for example, you notice something notable in the policies of a website or platform, all you have to do is select the edit button, which will transform your cursor into a digital highlighter. Once you’re done marking the text, you can then share it with other users.
TrueColours has already highlighted the top 20 most popular websites in Germany. The extension is available from the Google Chrome Web Store, and the TrueColours website. An accompanying iOS smartphone app (also in German) can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.