YouTube Provides Modified Terms of Service to State Governments

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Agreement addresses concern that YouTube’s standard terms of service violate state laws.

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YouTube and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), which represents state chief information officers and information technology executives, recently agreed that YouTube would provide state governments with the option of using modified terms of service.

NASCIO pursued this agreement to alleviate the concerns of state officials that YouTube’s standard Terms of Service might violate state procurement rules or state constitutions. Specifically, many states prohibit agencies from agreeing to indemnification clauses, like one that appears in the standard Terms of Service, because they could create indeterminate financial liabilities for the states. A NASCIO report described other state concerns including strict limits on jurisdiction and choice of law found in the ordinary Terms of Service.

The modified terms of service addresses those concerns by not holding states legally responsible if YouTube is sued because of content they post and not requiring that potential legal disputes between YouTube and the state governments be settled in California courts.

The agreement followed nearly 18 months of negotiations between NASCIO and YouTube. NASCIO had previously come to a similar agreement altering Facebook’s terms, and it hopes to develop parallel arrangements with other popular websites, including Twitter.

Facebook had experience modifying its terms for the government: in 2009, it formed an agreement with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to provide modified terms to federal agencies. Federal agencies concerns’ had included “liability limits, endorsements, freedom of information, and governing law.”