Terms of service dictate both what customers can do on a site and what that site can do with its customers' information. Well-funded websites can afford a legal team or law firm to write up terms of service just for them, while smaller ventures often just download generic documents and post them on their pages, Chen said. The former is expensive and time-consuming, and the latter isn't the best solution for startups, he said.
Tosigram is designed to automate the creation of custom terms of service. Web developers answer questions about what they want users to be able to do on their sites and what they plan to do with the visitors' data, and Tosigram puts together the chunks of legal language that cover those points into a document. Then it translates that document into a concise list of advisories that can appear when users sign up to use the site, Chen said.
For example, bullet points on the summarized terms of service might say that personally identifiable information will only be used for that service and it won't be stored or sold, but anonymous usage data may be collected. Other points could note the minimum age for users and give guidelines for participation on the site, such as not posting offensive material and not linking directly to hosted files.
The full terms of service document would still be a hefty piece of text, which any prospective user could click to open up. But few Web users read those full terms, which is why Tosigram is providing the bullet summary.
Chen, a high school senior from Naperville, Illinois, formed Tosigram with two partners who attend universities in the Chicago area. Chen designed the user interface, while one partner wrote the code and the other, a law student, wrote the terms-of-service content. To finish the final product, Tosigram plans to enlist a law firm to act as an advisory board.
The company plans to use a "freemium" business model, offering the service free of charge to small startups, with Tosigram's brand appearing on the summary terms of service as a form of advertising to build up its brand. Fee-based services might include a white-label version that sites can use under their own brands. After getting the Web version out in the market, Tosigram plans to create a similar service for mobile apps.
Tosigram will be showing a prototype of the product at Demo but is nearly ready to go into private beta testing, with a public beta possibly next month -- when Chen also will graduate high school.