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Regarding upate Privacy Policy, Terms of Use and EU law.
Posted September 1st, 2012 - 3:45 pm from Royken, Norway
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Posted September 1st, 2012 - 5:39 pm by from Utrecht, Netherlands (Permalink)
Well said :)

Posted September 1st, 2012 - 5:44 pm from Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Posted September 1st, 2012 - 5:46 pm by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
I am glad you did that.

Posted September 1st, 2012 - 5:51 pm from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted September 1st, 2012 - 5:52 pm from Royken, Norway
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 4:47 am by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
I'm really shocked to read this.

I would suggest that before reaching out to anyone outside of CS, please read & understand our new Privacy Policy and work with me (or, if necessary, the CS legal department) to understand anything that you are frustrated/confused about. That's definitely the best first step.

Winfried - what, specifically, are you concerned about:
1.) Our previous privacy policy
2.) Our previous communications about privacy & security
3.) Our current privacy policy
4.) Our current communications about privacy & security

It seems like you are frustrated about all four - is that correct? I'm just trying to understand exactly the issue. And that you want to have an "I agree" or "I disagree" button. Is that your biggest concern?

I'm also a bit confused about what you mean when you say that you want to see "exact details of the changes" - confused because we sent that all out via email and it's available right here on the website. The policy is written quite plainly (and is not very long). It was written to be very easy to understand. Do you need clarification about some particular part? I would be happy to provide.

Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 8:13 am from Mannheim, Germany
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 9:09 am from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 3:07 pm from Eindhoven, Netherlands
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 3:36 pm from Bristol, England
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 3:57 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
@Ronald, This pretty much sums up my concerns from the ToU.

Unless I missed it, CS's mission is still "To Change the World, One Couch at a Time" and yet its speaking with the self-protection legal practices and fear currency I'd say is at odds with itself. Ever worse, it invites us into the conversation of fear and distrust.

To be clear, I get it, CS is covering its ass from those who would like to abuse it. And there is certainly a bit of 'if we need to do something to function as a business, this is covering us too' but the mission should still stand. It takes a strong group of people to champion this.

This conversation should be happening both here in the open, directly between concerned parties and especially for those that are unaware of the conversation at all.

For the record, I would like to see a clear-speak, explanation of the changes and why they are being made. The lawyers are capable of doing this, it just isn't their default method.

Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 5:23 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
Oh, and too keep this Amb related, and thus relevant to Bill. I have received questions from my local surfers because when people are confused or concerned they feel the value of communicating with someone of (perceived) experience, in person. At this point I'm telling them I'm part of the conversation, and that we should still be able to trust the spirit, but personally, I have some concerns as well.



Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 8:30 am from Rotterdam, Netherlands
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 1:13 pm from Royken, Norway
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 5:47 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 4th, 2012 - 8:34 am from Geneva, Switzerland
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 11:38 am from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 11:45 am by from Utrecht, Netherlands (Permalink)
@Michel,

I believe you do great things for this community, the fact that you are 'no 4' in within Couchsurfing by experience according to the couchsearch does not make you better then anybody else. How can we ever respect your opinion if you don't respect any opinion of people who are 'lower' then you? Please stop acting like couchsurfing is an army.

Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 12:35 pm from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 6:01 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 6:36 pm from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 6:46 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 5:14 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 1:14 pm from Royken, Norway
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 6:48 pm from London, England
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 7:20 pm from Royken, Norway
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 7:52 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 11:25 pm from Miami, United States
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 11:34 pm from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 1:28 am from New York, United States
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 1:46 am from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 4:20 pm from New York, United States
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Posted September 2nd, 2012 - 1:45 pm from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 1:59 am from Athens, Greece
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 4:02 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted September 3rd, 2012 - 7:03 am from Bolzano, Italy
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Posted September 4th, 2012 - 12:14 am by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
So that you're all aware, I'm preparing responses for the following people: Xavier, Ronald, Dave & Shiizzle. The questions asked by these individuals seem to sum up the concerns of the group at large. Many of you did not ask questions - that's okay. But it has required a really long time to digest all of this.

And the "I accept" button (Winfreid) - I'll let you know about that too.

For now - the team is very hard at work ensuring that this message made it to the inboxes and CS system emails of every single user.

More from me soon.

Posted September 4th, 2012 - 1:56 am from Lampedusa Island, Italy
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Posted September 4th, 2012 - 8:32 am by from Berlin, Germany (Permalink)
To Bill.

I have three more questions that have been mentioned in other threads and groups, and I find it more practical to resume them here.

1. In the new Privacy Policy is stated:

«Sharing of Information
We do not share personal information about you with third parties except as follows:

* With your consent, including if we notify you through our Services that the information you provide will be shared in a particular manner and you provide such information;

* With third party vendors, consultants and other service providers who need access to such information to carry out their work for us;

* With partners who run contests, special offers or other events or activities in connection with our Services;»


If I understand correctly, the first point includes everything else, because 'CS is notifying us through their Sevices' (i.e. the Privacy Policy itself) while there are not specific options or privacy settings to make a choice.

Is that true?

I find rather interesting that our specific consent is not required for CS Inc. to share our personal information with third party vendors and advertisers.

Usually those 'third party people' need to be specified, at least regarding the scope of their activity with CS Inc.

2. Why is it necessary to license the member content «for any purpose» and «without limitation» while it should be enough—for example—«for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones»?

3. Why is said license perpetual and irrevocable while it should end with—for example—the deletion of one's profile?

Thanks for your time.
Piergi

ps: as a side note, I have not yet received the message regarding the changes in the ToU and in the Privacy Policy. This is just to notify the tech guys that the mailing system is not completely reliable.

Posted September 5th, 2012 - 8:43 am from Roseville, Australia
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Posted September 5th, 2012 - 8:51 am from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 5th, 2012 - 10:51 am from Bristol, England
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 5:44 am from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 12:04 pm from Roseville, Australia
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 7:01 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 4th, 2012 - 10:03 pm from Royken, Norway
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 2:58 am by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
@Winfried.

First, about the “opt in” or “opt out” button: The answer
is, quite simply, no - we will not have such a feature. You asked explicitly for no further
explanation and so I’ll honor that request.

I don’t think it helps much to talk any more about your
decision to go to authorities before discussing anything with anyone at
CS. Your explanation about being kicked
out of the Community Builder Group is obviously nonsense. I
have requested (more than once) to Skype with you and you have flat declined me.
You know I’m available and willing (and
want!) to connect. So that’s why this
was a shock.

Although I wish you handled this differently – it’s your
decision not mine.

*******

@ Xavier

I’m glad you brought up Section 5.3. I agree that the particular terms sound quite
intense. However, it's fairly standard for social networks. Essentially what it
means in practice is that you grant us the right to display your content on our
website. So your profile, for example, can be accessed by other members — we're
the middleman, so we need the legal rights to display that information in
whichever format is necessary. You still
(as always) will be able to set your privacy settings in accordance with your
comfort level.

*******


@Ronald


A1 & A2) Yes, of course we have looked into EU Privacy Laws. Additionally, we are currently investigating
opting in to the EU-US Safe Harbor framework which complies with the 7
principles outlined in the EU Data Protection Directive.

B1) It depends on what types of revisions are made to our
policies. Occasionally we will make minor changes to the TOU or privacy policy,
and in such cases we don't want to overwhelm members with unnecessary emails.
If we make large material changes, we will notify members directly. In both
circumstances, we will update the effective date at the top of both policies so
that you know when the version is effective.

B2.) Don't know – hard to say at this point.

C1.) Yes. That’s
correct. My advice: Don’t forget to log
out of your account, especially at very public places, like hostels. It’s a safety risk to all members if you do
not properly protect your account.

D1.) We want the shop to be great, and so we will do our
best to ensure that the products and services are great too. However, we just want to make sure that
everyone knows that we don’t (currently) operate the shop. (Sidenote: It is my personal hope that one
day we’ll manage and run the shop internally.
Right now, we don’t have the manpower.)

D2.) I don’t know. Is
this a big deal?

E1.) Yes. (I’ll add that I can’t ever imagine a situation in
which we would need to or want to.)

F1.) Well – Yes. But
you asked this question in a very tricky way.
I want to remind everyone that we have an entire department that hunts
down this kind of abusive behavior, spam, etc.
This piece of policy is in place to ensure that all members know that
they are responsible for what they contribute.
We’re not going to let spammers (or, in some cases, more dangerous
people) off the hook by saying, “well, it’s the responsibility of CS to take it
down.”

G1.) Please see what I wrote to Xavier above about section
5.3.

G2.) Yes. We will ask members for their consent before doing
anything with personal information not otherwise described in the privacy
policy. You will also be able to adjust certain privacy settings with regard to
information made available to the public.

H1.) This question doesn’t make sense. You ARE allowed to.

H2.) Please see the “Why We Care” portion of the TM policy
(which you linked). Copied a bit here: Having a trademark allows us to protect the
community’s name and to prevent confusion for you, our members. For example, if
someone decided to start a tour company called “CouchSurfing Tours,” we would
be able to get them to change the name before members became confused and
thought that they were affiliated with CS. But if many people use the
CouchSurfing Marks without adhering to our guidelines, even for worthwhile
projects, the ability of the CouchSurfing Marks to function properly weakens
over time, as does your ability to know with confidence what offerings are
truly and genuinely associated with us.

I1.) First of all – we do a very good job of
this. Are you not comfortable with our
current Safety Policy? We do boot repeat
offenders from CS. This piece of policy
is necessary because we have millions of members. We’ll do everything we can to keep the
community as safe as possible, but CouchSurfers also need to make the safest
possible decisions.

J.) Thanks for asking. The first thing I’ll say is that this is a
major distraction from my primary job – the Ambassador Program. I don’t like anything that distracts me from
that. So – I’ve had better weeks. But I don’t think you were asking about that.
I think you want to know my opinion on the Privacy Policy (even though my
opinion shouldn’t matter). I’m
completely fine with it. The language is heavy in parts, but I understand why it
has to be. I’m also very much aware that
we’re not changing anything about the way we operate. For example – we don’t work with any “third
parties” and we’re not planning to any time soon. But eventually, we might. I like the policy because it is crystal clear
and meant to be very long-term. My
biggest concern is that a few users don’t trust what we’re doing and it
certainly doesn’t help to throw a legal document like this in between us. But we’ll continue to do the best we can to
earn your faith in us. And, of course,
we’ll keep working hard to make CouchSurfing the best it can be.

Finally, you asked if I, personally, comply
with all the ToU. No - I currently do not. My CouchSurfing password is the same as my
password on Facebook and my personal gmail. I’ll change that soon. There
were a few other areas in which I was in violation - I'll make those changes soon. When I first had a look at the ToU (a while ago) there were several instances in which I thought, "oops - I'm in violation." In each
instance, I completely understood how I was putting CS, the community, and myself at risk.

********

@Pat

You call this a “rush job.”
(Winfried, too, I think, said something like this.) That’s
wrong. This was not rushed or haphazard. The CS Team has been
drafting/discussing these policies since April.

I answered Ronald’s questions above.

********


@Dave Mitchell

I’m glad to hear from you and I agree with much of what you say.
You’re right (and I said it above) - legal stuff does bring about fear and
mistrust. But sometimes there’s no way
to get around it. If CouchSurfing wants
to stick around, we need to make sure we are protected. The language is intentionally strong to
remove any ambiguity. We want everyone
to be very clear about how we will (and can) use data. It won’t help for me (or any attorneys) to
soften any of this.

I do agree that these conversations need to happen out in
the open. I think that’s exactly what’s
happening. I hope you also understand
that many decisions have to happen internally.
There is a distinction between open conversation and
internal decision-making. Our new site
upgrade is another example of this.
We’re moving the site in a direction that will benefit the
community. It’s based on years of
feedback (qualitative and quantitative).
But every decision about the look and feel of the site isn’t a group
decision.

Ambassadors should definitely discuss these changes with
your CS peers. If you have some hesitations – don’t
hesitate to share that. I don’t think
that you should be mouthpieces for the CS Org – answer in a way that is human
and honest – and be yourself. I think
it’s perfectly okay to say, “I too am a little uneasy about this stuff, but the
idea is that it’s meant to protect CS from abusers and lawsuits.” If you need a specific explanation about a specific line of policy, go to policies@couchsuring.com.

Also – I don’t understand why you think this changes our
commitment to our Mission. I don’t see
it that way at all.

********

@ Dave, Daniel (and Everyone)

For my own information, please share with me the following
information:



1.) How
many conversations have you had with non-Ambassador CouchSurfers?

2.) Of
those conversations, how many of these conversations were initiated by you and
how many by the non-Ambassador?

3.) How
have they been going? Positive? Negative?

So that you’re all aware, only ~50 people (globally, total!)
emailed @policies with questions. I
don’t mean to downplay this thread (or the topic in general) – it’s serious and
important stuff. But very few people care.

********

@Shiizzle (and everyone)

I’m working with our legal counsel to see about creating
a summary of changes. By law, it’s not
required – but I can see that some of you would like to see such a document. But
I also want to reiterate the point I made above – not too many people care
about this, so it might not be the best use of time. Furthermore, the old and new policies are clearly available here. And
(I’ve said this a few times now) – I don’t think I should be the one to interpret
this for you. If you are concerned about
your privacy, you should read the policy directly.

*********

@Martin

Would you really leave CS because of our updated Privacy
Policy?

**********

Posted September 6th, 2012 - 3:22 am from Roseville, Australia
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Posted September 10th, 2012 - 5:57 pm from Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 7:51 am by from Berlin, Germany (Permalink)
Hi Bill.
About your answers:

1. «I’m glad you brought up Section 5.3. I agree that the particular terms sound quite intense. However, it's fairly standard for social networks.»

Well, it is not fairly standard. As already pointed out many times, Google[1], Pinterest[2], Tumblr[3], and others have 'lighter' rules. Nobody—as far as I know—has yet gone that far as to say «we can use your your name, likeness, voice, or identity for any purpose without limitation».

As you pointed out in your reply, if with this licence «you grant us the right to display your content on our website», then why it is not written so? It says «for any purpose without limitation».

A fairly standard wording is instead «for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones».

2. «very few people care.»

Michael Zarb answered to that (i.e. very few people know about it). I would like to add that there are already quite a few threads about this very topic:

Amb Public
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=13062093
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=12998102
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=13009098

Brainstorm ~ Redifined
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=7621&post=13000298
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=7621&post=13067827

We are against CS becoming a for-profit corporation
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=45507&post=13022382

plus others in the city groups (for sure in Lyon and in Berlin).

3. «we don’t work with any “third parties” and we’re not planning to any time soon. But eventually, we might. I like the policy because it is crystal clear and meant to be very long-term.»

As I have said in my unanswered message, reading the Privacy Policy it is crystal clear that when you will be working with third parts, like for example «third party vendors» you are not going to ask for our consent to give (sell) them our information.

And the very long-term is in my opinion not such a great idea: why on Earth should we consent to waive our rights even after one has deleted the profile?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.
Piergi

[1] Google: «for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services»
[2] Pinterest: «for the purposes of operating and providing the Service(s) to you and to our other Users»
[3] Tumblr: «The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of
operating the Services in accordance with their functionality, improving
the Services, and allowing Tumblr to develop new Services»

Posted September 6th, 2012 - 7:22 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 9:34 am from Bristol, England
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 10:41 am by from London, Canada (Permalink)
Thanks for the replies Bill.

When I allude to the commitment of the Mission, I think much of this stems from peoples desire for CS to be different, a form of utopia online that uniquely extends to the real world. I'm not ass kissing when I say you work for an organization that really has changed the world for a lot of people, so I'm speaking from my perspective when I say that members come here because it collects the best of peoples nature and the legal components that concern some, taint that.

I certainly appreciate that many decisions have to happen internally. I've had enough experience with 'participatory democracies' lately to know that while theoretically ideal, practically difficult to scale. We just have the choice to follow or not, trust or not. Also, I don't want to see a Homermobile.

“I too am a little uneasy about this stuff, but the
idea is that it’s meant to protect CS from abusers and lawsuits.” That pretty much sums up my response and encourage people to look at it from that perspective.

A couple of the points in the ToU I still think go a bit too far (5.3 in particular seem to lack a balance of courtesy and respect) and don't seem to fall entirely under the premise of protecting from abusers and lawsuits.

In reality, the thing that distresses me the most is the copyright limitations. I get how dilution works in the copyright world but the old license of "you may use such material in the course of your normal, personal, non-commercial use of our Services" meant that organizers of events could accentuate the spirit of the Brand with their own creativity. The fact that people want to do this is an homage to what the Brand represents. The new copyright statement squashes that, makes some vague statement about "unless modification or derivative use is specifically provided for under separate terms"

1.) How many conversations have you had with non-Ambassador CouchSurfers? To date, 5 Another, 6th was with a current ambassador

2.) Of those conversations, how many of these conversations were initiated by you and
how many by the non-Ambassador? None initiated by me. Though I was tempted at a recent meetup to ask people about their thoughts on the new ToU and PP just to ensure they were aware it was coming, the venue was not conducive to that conversation however.

3.) How have they been going? Positive? Negative? I think the "protecting themselves from the evils of the world" response works, but I think at least in Canada we see that approach simular to the Homeland Security approach on dealing with Terrorism. Are we giving up rights/spirit for safety? And internationally that concept can be extremely foreign.

I can't help but be curious as to how much of a silent majority issue this is. How many people are reading it, I mean really reading it?

Changing the world is hard work. And trying to be a corporation that embodies an ideal is even harder. It takes compromise as much as we wish it didn't. I have no belief that CS is evil or becoming so as being so would by nature mean its own destruction. The silent majority trust in that. But there are a few that will challenge it, not out of spite but concern.

My sympathies for the crappy week, but in the big picture this is all worth it.

Posted September 6th, 2012 - 11:52 am from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 7:13 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 6th, 2012 - 4:57 pm from Mannheim, Germany
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Posted September 7th, 2012 - 3:55 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted September 7th, 2012 - 8:20 pm from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 7th, 2012 - 10:50 pm from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 8th, 2012 - 7:13 am from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 8th, 2012 - 8:30 am from Roseville, Australia
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Posted September 8th, 2012 - 8:51 am from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 9th, 2012 - 1:15 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
@evert and Benival I curious how you feel CS has changed in the last year. My personal experience is that it has been business as usually for 99% of the users. Becoming a for-profit should have nothing to do with how we use the service in spirit. Unless you actually care about the money, as Jo and Al point out

I want don't care if CS makes money off me using the service they provide or not, heck Bill and Casey could be sleeping on couches made of hundred dollar bills for all I care. The idea that I'm expecting something in return for the effort I've given freely to CS over the years other than priceless experiences would be ME failing to live the mission statement. I'm in this 'fight' over the ToU because I see potential for abuse without clear rational as to its value to the longevity of the Service. Anything more than that and I have to question the individuals perspective

Dave

Posted September 9th, 2012 - 3:48 pm from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 9th, 2012 - 3:56 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
The free-bed problem is certainly a different problem unrelated to ToU and the B-corp change. Its a case of the message getting lost in growth. We as 'believers' or as I prefer, 'champions' have to be brave enough to educate people that are of that opinion. All CS corporate can do is try not to market themselves as such.


Posted September 9th, 2012 - 4:05 pm from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 9th, 2012 - 4:37 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
I'd like to take the conversation a step further and try to get away from territorial generalities and think globally as a whole. The ToU should be a balance of whats best for the company and the users, regardless of userbase percentages. Its egotistical to think that just because there are more surfers in Europe that they are right, they should be considered just like those 3 surfers on Tristan da Cunha


Posted September 9th, 2012 - 7:33 pm from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 9th, 2012 - 7:59 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
Generally I agree, as I pointed out waaayy up top about how 'participatory democracy' fails. However, in this case I'm speaking of the rights of the users. Baselines for human rights should be the same regardless of local. Any business that can't satisfy that is flawed and doesn't deserve to succeed as it exploits the weakest link.

Posted September 9th, 2012 - 8:22 pm from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 10th, 2012 - 10:51 am by from Oslo, Norway (Permalink)
1. The new ToU`s are a problem.
2. Many of the members, including myself, are not equipped with the language or legal skills to fully understand and/or debate the issue.
3. With the CS now being a for-profit corp - addressing the ambassadors or company itself with concerns or complaints seem overwhelming and futile.
4. The biggest change here seem to be the non-democratic approach.
5. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is not the tip of the iceberg.

But, all in all, it might be good for CS to shrink a bit.

Thanks for a good ride since 2008!

Best of luck and happy travels to all after the 14th :)

Posted September 10th, 2012 - 11:02 am from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 10th, 2012 - 11:16 am by from Oslo, Norway (Permalink)
Hehe. a lot of semantic edits in this thread. I said democratic approach. But anyway, enjoy :)

Posted September 10th, 2012 - 6:06 pm from Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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Posted September 10th, 2012 - 11:39 am from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 11th, 2012 - 1:40 pm by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
Claudia, thank you for a good summary!

Posted September 13th, 2012 - 11:27 am from Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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Posted September 10th, 2012 - 6:57 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted September 10th, 2012 - 7:29 pm by from Utrecht, Netherlands (Permalink)
"What information does CS have that you would consider personal and private enough to be worried about it?"

That question has already been asked and partially answered here:
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=13139812

Posted September 10th, 2012 - 7:30 pm from Mannheim, Germany
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Posted September 12th, 2012 - 6:31 pm by from London, Canada (Permalink)
A fact that I would like to think would not be used against us is the obstacle of rebuilding the reputation system would keep people from migrating away. I for one am not the type of person that thinks the grass will be greener somewhere else, but instead see the benefit of treating the soil where I am right now.

I've not signed the petition because I think they have taking the heavy hand of making specific points in their petition. I don't agree with a lot of their points and thus in good conscience cannot sign it.

Posted September 13th, 2012 - 11:58 am from Bristol, England
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Posted September 13th, 2012 - 4:21 pm by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
I am glad to hear that the dataprotection take it serious in Germany. I hope they will be able to do something about it.

Posted September 13th, 2012 - 5:22 pm from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 13th, 2012 - 5:36 pm by from Bamberg, Germany (Permalink)
"Officially", have a look:
http://www.bfdi.bund.de/DE/Oeffentlichkeitsarbeit/Pressemitteilungen/2012/18_CouchSurfing.html?nn=408908 :)
(only in German, of course - please use Google translator)

Posted September 13th, 2012 - 5:51 pm from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted September 13th, 2012 - 6:37 pm by from Budapest, Hungary (Permalink)
hi there,

i don't understand your bad feelings at all. yes, CS sells my profile so what? what can you read on my profile? there is a hungarian 26-old guy who travels a lot and likes indie rock. wow it sounds valuable. or i can expect that they use my profile picture as a billboard at Times Square labeled 'from now impotence is not a problem'.
regards

Mark

Posted September 13th, 2012 - 7:08 pm from New York, United States
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Posted September 13th, 2012 - 7:41 pm by from Budapest, Hungary (Permalink)
Hi Juan,

i think i can still sleep tonight.
"use your identity" until it doesn't blow my personality it won't be a problem. :)

can you tell me at least 1 consequence how it can be disadvantageous for my life with this new ToU. or it is just a bad feeling that e.g. samsung bought my identity and the emplyees play role-play games with my identity during a team buliding?? or does this thread talk about our principles?
cheers

Mark

P.S.:if i die i will inherit my profile for The CS Holding.

Posted September 13th, 2012 - 8:13 pm from Haarlem, Netherlands
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Posted September 24th, 2012 - 11:40 am by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
Now I was able to get in touch with "Datatilsynet" in Denmark. They did not think there was any reason to worry. They told me that compared to US laws it can be necessary to write like they do in the TOU, to protect the organisation against lawsuits, and what they write in the privacy policy now is a way to satisfy european members, who usually (like in here) are much more careful about their private informations.

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Posted September 13th, 2012 - 11:05 pm by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
@Michael Zarb. You actually weren't the "Martin" (Martin Svangtun) I was referring to, but I appreciate your thoughts either way.

@EdwardTravels. The license under Section 5.3 allows us to display the pictures as part of our services (e.g. display your profile picture on the side of this group thread). It does not give us free reign to do whatever we want with those pictures. We would not be able to put your picture on a billboard without getting your permission. Anyway - I'm glad you're choosing to stay, even if it means editing and removing content from your profile.

@Xavier_M. I definitely did not say that nobody cares about this issue. And about that petition - our legal department is preparing a response right now. Expect that statement before the end of the day. (I assume that response will make it to this thread, but it if doesn't, I'll copy/paste it below.)

@only_me. I very thoroughly answered your "either/or" question via personal message (because I didn't realize you also posted the same question in the groups). Still you said, "The Communication i had with them in the last daysreally disappointed me." I'm sorry my response wasn't satisfactory and, as with the others, I'm really sad to see you go.

@EOEL & Benivel - Also sad that you're leaving. EOEL - you said that you will "no longer visit the site." As you are leaving for privacy related reasons, I suggest you also delete your profile (so that your information isn't publicly viewable on CS into the future).

@ Dave & Pat - I appreciate that you took the time to understand that petition before blindly signing. Thanks for being thoughtful & reasonable. (And, by the way, I'm not implying that anyone who did sign the petition is NOT thoughtful or reasonable. In fact, quite the opposite. I think there are some good points in there and that's why I worked with the legal department to prepare an official response. It's coming soon.)

@Juan - It seems like your big issue is that we save data after people delete their profies. Is that true? If so, please understand that it's a safety issue. And I'm in no position to compare CS to Facebook, but we take safety very seriously and so we archive historical data for safety reasons.

@Peter - As you emailed Contact Us, I'll leave it to them to answer your question. But I have one question for you: what is your reason to believe that we will not handle your data "carefully and with respect" ?

Posted September 14th, 2012 - 12:07 am from New York, United States
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Posted September 13th, 2012 - 10:17 pm from Bristol, England
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Posted September 14th, 2012 - 2:29 am by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
Many of you are aware of the petition going around ("For a strong Community behind CouchSurfing"). Our legal team crafted a formal response. Here it is:

***********************************************

Dear petition signers,

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the recent updates to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The level of comfort that individual members have with how their data is used online is very personal. This is why it's so important that members read these policies and determine how they individually choose to use our site and mobile apps.

In reading through the petition, we've noticed several areas in which incorrect assumptions have been made. This is perfectly understandable. Legal language, as you know, is unique from country to country and frequently the way that a sentence sounds in common language is not accurate because of the application of the law in a particular system.

We'd like to address your points not with a mind to convincing anyone to accept things which they find unacceptable, but to clarify and explain points on which we feel there is confusion.

1. "Don't share our data with anyone without our permission."

Under these policies, as applied through US privacy law, we cannot sell or transfer member data to advertisers or other third parties for their profitable use without obtaining your permission and allowing you the ability to opt out. The terms that this question refers to are in place so that we can share data, when necessary, with third parties and contractors that we work with (or will work with in the future) to provide our services. For example, when a member gets verified, we share their name and address with the company that sends our verification postcards. This data is strictly protected by a legal agreement that binds the company to use the information only for that contracted purpose. They are not allowed to use the data in any other way, or to transfer it to any other parties.

We do have the right to share anonymized and amalgamated data regarding large groups of members. For example, if we wanted to negotiate a discount for CouchSurfers with a travel service, we would potentially share with them the total numbers of members that fit their desired demographic. Another example would be if we worked with an analytics firm to determine how members are using the website. In these scenarios, no personally identifiable member data would be shared.

Under US law, if we decided to change the policies so that personally identifiable data could be shared in different ways than in our current policies (for example, by selling it to advertisers), we would need to notify you of that change in advance.

2. "Let us decide who can get our data."

As discussed above, the policies require us to notify you and give you the option to opt out if at any time we would like to share your personal data with an advertiser or a third party for commercial purposes. At that time, you would be welcome to opt out and your data would not be shared. The exception to this rule is if you are the subject of a legal investigation, in which case we will comply with any official legal proceedings.

3. "After we delete data, don't share it anymore and delete it soon after."

Just as with active data, deleted data can't be transferred to advertisers or third parties for commercial purposes without first notifying and allowing you the ability to opt out. However, we do sometimes need to access deleted data for member safety reasons. If someone were to use our system to commit a crime, it is important that they not then be able to delete the evidence. We share deleted data when required by a legal investigation.

4. "Don't terminate our access to CS or delete our profiles without any cause."

This term is necessary to allow our safety team to protect the community. It's important to note the difference between reason and cause. We're not going to delete people for no reason. But this term allows us to delete people for behavior that may not be technically illegal: for commercial spamming, for example, or repeated bad behavior towards other members. We retain the right to delete those accounts, and the policies allow us to do so without having to establish that the person has broken the law or our policies.

5. "Follow the rules of the countries where you provide your service."

We comply with US privacy law, which is the only legal system that we are required to be compliant with as we are registered in the US. It would be impossible for us to be fully compliant with the laws of all 232 countries and territories where our members are based.

However, we know that we have a very large membership base in Europe. This is why we are taking the optional step of opting in to the EU Safe Harbor. This requires us to adopt the seven guiding principles of the European Data Privacy Directive, and makes us criminally liable for any violation of those principles.

This is a serious commitment, and one that we are happy to make to be sure that we’re protecting members’ data.

6. "Inform us about every change in the Terms of Use and other Guidelines."

Now that the policies are up to date, future changes will generally be small and will be noted on the website via an updated date header on the policies. However, when we make material changes that we feel have an impact on how the privacy of data is handled, we will inform you.

7. "Don't write contradictory information in the Terms of Use and other Guidelines."

The fundamental misunderstanding here is the statement, "the Terms of Use (which are ruling over the Privacy Policy)." This is actually incorrect. The two policies operate in conjunction with each other. The Terms of Use is the legal framework under which we operate, and the Privacy Policy is a statement of how we collect, use, and share your data. In other words, the Terms of Use allows the broad foundation of possible uses, and the Privacy Policy tells you what we actually do with your data. So while the Terms allow us the ability to display your data, the Privacy Policy specifies that we can do so within our services and only those other purposes that are specified.

8, 9, & 10. "Don't tell us fairy tales and lies." "Ask the community about their opinion about changes before you change something." and "Listen to the community."

The changes to our policies were legally necessary to bring us up to date and ensure that we remain compliant with the law. It isn't feasible for us to crowdsource decisions of this kind. We always act with our members in mind, and it's important to us to remain open and clear about the changes we make. Dialogue and discussion is important and the CouchSurfing team invests considerable resources into both understanding the thoughts of the community and explaining our goals and our actions. We will never be able to make everyone happy, but we try our best to make decisions that will best serve the greatest number of people.

Thank you for taking the time to communicate your thoughts with us. We hope the information we've provided here helps clarify some of the issues so that you can make informed decisions about your use of the website and mobile apps.

Regards,

The CouchSurfing Legal Team

Posted September 14th, 2012 - 5:31 am from Honolulu, United States
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted September 14th, 2012 - 6:10 am by from Utrecht, Netherlands (Permalink)
@Bill,

thanks for an answer that seems to be an honest answer. Still there is one thing I don't yet understand. You explain us that it is very important for CouchSurfing to get the terms of use 'up to date', but there isn't really anything 'new' CouchSurfing is planning to do with it.

So what is so important for CouchSurfing that can be done legally with the new terms of use that couldn't be done with the old ones?

Jasper

Posted September 14th, 2012 - 6:58 am from Ascoli Piceno, Italy
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Posted September 17th, 2012 - 10:13 pm from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 3:11 pm by from Anchorage, United States (Permalink)
I agree with what you say. The TOS looks like a crock, but I would suggest focusing the debate on the relavent points on their own merits, and not cloud the issues by bringing in EU privacy law.

My statement is this: CouchSurfing is probably not subject to EU law, just as it's not subject to Australian, Chinese, Sudanese, Russian, or Eritrean law. Frame the issue in terms of the specific negative 'human' points, rather than "EU law says..."

The 'big' websites certainly do obey by foreign rules because they have foreign presence.

I know that the US likes to exert pressure to enforce its legal viewpoint extra-territorily, but that's certainly not a logical argument to suggest that it's correct. I'm surprised: usually it's the Europeans who [correctly] complain that the USA tries to apply its law in places where it has no jurisdiction.

Posted September 18th, 2012 - 6:14 pm from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 8:08 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted September 21st, 2012 - 2:16 pm from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 17th, 2012 - 7:23 pm by from Anchorage, United States (Permalink)
This has probably already been covered. I admit that I didn't read the entire long thread.

First, I'll say that it would be nice for CS to highlight the differences resulting from a change of terms-of-service. That is a good idea and the right thing to do.

However, if CouchSurfing has no European presence, it is probably not subject to the EU Data Protection Directive.

A website generally has to follow the laws of where the organization is incorporated and where the servers are located. The USA has also successfully exerted jurisdiction based on where the domain name registrar is operating from.

I don't know if CS has servers or an official organization in Europe. If it doesn't, then there is no data being stored in Europe subject to EU data protection laws.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. DO follow all of these laws because they all have domains, servers, and even subsidiaries incorporated in many European countries.

However, if an EU citizen purchases a widget from a small domestic store in Colombia, or China, or California, the details [data] of the purchase are going to be governed by the location where the store is based.

Posted September 17th, 2012 - 9:55 pm from Toulouse, France
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 8:12 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 8:38 pm from Bristol, England
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 9:11 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 21st, 2012 - 3:46 pm by from Perth, Australia (Permalink)
I've been following this debate(discussion) off and on for a while now. In general I've found it quite interesting to read about people's different opinions on the matter, and for me personally the response from the CouchSurfing legal team [1] answered all my questions.

But it is sad to see that some members have resorted to attacking each other. Picking out other's profiles, making a contest of who has done more.
Come on, we all know that every member of CS is just as important as any other member. Without any one of us (us being all CS members, not just ambassadors) our community would be so much less.

Lets avoid the temptation of attacking each other and just focus on the issue(s) at hand.

1 - http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=13062093#post13182498

Posted September 21st, 2012 - 7:11 pm from Honolulu, United States
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 9:19 pm from New York, United States
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Posted September 18th, 2012 - 11:26 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted September 26th, 2012 - 9:28 am from Glasgow, Scotland
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Posted September 26th, 2012 - 6:56 pm from Batu Ferringhi, Malaysia
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Posted September 27th, 2012 - 8:55 am by from Glasgow, Scotland (Permalink)
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Posted September 27th, 2012 - 8:58 am from Glasgow, Scotland
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Posted September 27th, 2012 - 9:54 am from Bolzano, Italy
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Posted September 30th, 2012 - 4:03 pm by from Kuopio, Finland (Permalink)
I have to agree here. All that fuss.

There is no right answer here. There's a veto for everything. Perhaps everybody should decide whether they want to stay on CS or not.

Posted September 27th, 2012 - 3:29 am from New York, United States
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Posted October 16th, 2012 - 12:16 pm from Vienna, Austria
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