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FILE - In this July 15, 2015 file photo, an Uber driver sits in his car near the San Francisco International Airport. Uber and advocates for the blind have reached a lawsuit settlement in which the ride-hailing company agrees to require that existing and new drivers confirm they understand their legal obligations to transport riders with guide dogs or other service animals. The settlement is designed to resolve a lawsuit in federal court that alleges Uber discriminates against passengers with service dogs.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

A quiet change to Uber's legal fine print could make future class-action lawsuits tougher

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You might not have noticed that Uber updated its terms and conditions on Monday. But a small change could be major news for everyone using the app. 

A revision to the legal fine print reads: "By agreeing to the Terms, you agree that you are required to resolve any claim that you may have against Uber on an individual basis in arbitration, as set forth in this Arbitration Agreement."

In other words, Uber passengers can't sue Uber, they'll have to use arbitration to resolve any future legal disputes.

Uber's legal complications

The changes to how Uber resolves legal disputes were announced in an email last Thursday. If you didn't read the terms but still use the app, then you're bound by them, CNET reports.  That includes UberEats and other Uber offshoots, too.

Uber is already tied up in multiple lawsuits. One case last year was granted class-action status by a California judge. And in August, Uber's $100 million settlement to 385,000 drivers in California and Massachusetts was rejected and deemed inadequate.

Class-action in the crosshairs

Another important change in the legal boilerplate targets future class-action lawsuits:

"This will preclude you from bringing any class, collective, or representative action against Uber, and also preclude you from participating in or recovering relief under any current or future class, collective, consolidated, or representative action brought against Uber by someone else."

The arbitration agreement is not new... We expanded the arbitration provision overall to make it more clear and easy to read.
Uber, in an email

Uber said in an email that this wasn't new -- just "expanded" -- and that the terms and conditions had always required arbitration over lawsuits.

The new terms also include a provision to "exploit" user data without consent.

Are you worried by Uber's changes to the terms and conditions?

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