Google doesn’t claim it changed its terms of service to be more clear.
Good thing, because that would be a lie.

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Issue 81   November, 2019

Work hard to make ‘terms of service’ readable

Dear <<First Name>>:

Oh, my poor eyes and brain.

When I logged into my analytics last week, Google had new “Google Measurement Controller-Controller Data Protection Terms” to which they invited me to agree. Like you, probably, I usually just click on “agree.” This time, I copied, saved and read the terms.

Google doesn’t claim it changed its terms of service to be more clear. Good thing, because that would be a lie.
Close to 2,300 words set out the new terms, including the lengthy preamble below. Google did not define “Controller” but it appears to be a GDPR thing (General Data Protection Regulation, an EU data protection and privacy law). Looks like “Controller Data” basically means any of your personal data in their control.
Watch out, here’s the before, with an alarming amount of pinky-red meaning “very hard to read” (yellow is slightly less hard), according to the Hemingway app:

Google terms (before)
Lawyers have obviously covered all the bases with this complicated explanation, but your job is to help your readers understand. So, negotiate. Let the lawyers have a link to the full and binding legal definition in all its glory, but focus on your readers.

To start the rewrite, I addressed the reader ("you"), who is presumably said Customer. I shortened and broke up the sentences and got to the point. I took out unnecessarily legal wording (like "as amended from time to time"). I used italics to highlight some differences and moved the “a, b, c” points to bullets. Here’s my rewrite:
Google terms (after)
Here are some before and after readability results using the Hemingway app and StoryToolz:
 Flesch reading ease (30-50 = difficult; 60-70 = 
 plain English)
 43.3/100  60.7/100
 Hemingway app readability ranking  Grade 16  Grade 8
 # of very hard-to-read sentences  8  0
 # words  270  175
 Average words per sentence (22-25 words =
 60-69% understanding; 15-18 = 80-89%)
 22.5  15.7
 Longest sentence (43+ words = 0-9%
 57 (!!) words  21 words
Better, although there is always room for improvement. (I'm not fond of "Bind the customer," for instance.)

Have you seen a “before” piece of writing that needs an “after”? Please hit reply and share; I’m always looking for good (bad) examples.
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Freelance writer Sue HornerMay I help you?
Many of my clients are overworked corporate communicators who appreciate a writer who provides clear, friendly and readable copy. I simplify the complex, uncover “what’s in it for me?” and find the human angle in just about any story. Contact me and let’s chat about how I can take some pressure off your day.

Sue's photo: Amara Studios.

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