Terms of Service

What Does Terms of Service Mean?

Terms of service (ToS) is a commonly used phrase for the set of rules and regulations a provider attaches to a software service or Web-delivered product. These kinds of agreements are so common in the digital world that most consumers understand the use of a terms-of-service agreement and must often agree to it before utilizing the software service.


Terms of service are also known as terms and conditions or terms of use (TOU).

Techopedia Explains Terms of Service

A terms-of-service agreement is similar to an end-user licensing agreement (EULA) for licensed software. The difference is that, instead of licensed out-of-the-box software products, users are utilizing a service, hence the adjusted terminology. Users can encounter terms of service on all kinds of software, from word processors and graphic design programs, to advanced industry software or statistical software services.

Elements of a ToS agreement can include privacy policies, accountability provisions, opt-out provisions and liability provisions. Some may set up arbitration for any user grievances. Many of them lay out a list of what users cannot do on a particular service, for example, post objectionable content, utilize services for specific commercial purposes, etc. In general, a ToS agreement serves to set up a foundational contract between the user and the service provider.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.