Update: Esri Updates Terms of Use on (Free) Personal Accounts for ArcGIS Online

From the latest post from the ArcGIS Blog today about ArcGIS Online public accounts (formerly personal accounts) changes stated to take effect Dec 1 are not yet in effect. They will be in effect with the March release of ArcGIS Onine. The date for that release is not given. The Terms of Use link in the post (and on Esri website) failed, so I was unable to read the date of those.


--- original post 12/7/12 -----

I recieved the e-mail because I have a free account (though I thought it was associated with another e-mail address, further the e-mail describes the list I'm on as "event, product, and training notifications").

The news:

Notice: Terms of Use Update

You are receiving this e-mail because you have a free ArcGIS Online Personal Account and Esri has updated the associated Terms of Use, effective December 1, 2012. We want to inform you how the update affects the way you can use your ArcGIS Online Personal Account.
What's changing?
We are changing the name from ArcGIS Online Personal Account to ArcGIS Online Public Account. The ArcGIS Online Public Account will continue to be available at no cost and, as such, is licensed for personal, noncommercial use only.
Under the updated Terms of Use, ArcGIS Online Public Account holders can:
  • no longer share items privately or create private groups
  • continue creating public groups and sharing items publicly, or keep all items private for their own viewing
  • keep private groups and private items if a personal account was created before November 30
(Note: We will not make any existing private groups and associated items public.)
If you want to continue to create private groups so you can share items privately, you can purchase an annual ArcGIS Online subscription, which also gives you access to all ArcGIS Online features and services.
So, in short:
  • a name change to the account type to Public Account 
  • no private items or private groups from here on
  • existing private items and groups will stay that way if created before November 30


  • The name change of the account to Public Account makes it clear all new additions are public or for the account owner's use. 
  • The private groups and items are now only available in the subscription version of ArcGIS Online. Esri is tweaking the "free" part of the "freemium" part of the service. 
  • Esri is respecting its users by not turning items and groups that were private to public.

My Take

Users who determined a way to use ArcGIS Online with free accounts may have to be ok with work being public. I'm thinking of educators in particular, but I'm sure other organizations have been using free accounts for other non-commerical uses, too.

This change, like the addition of a credit estimator and new template tools, is another piece of data for those still wondering about how to implement ArcGIS Online in their organization. I've spoken to many users, educators and partners who wisely chose (and continue to choose) to wait for some time before seriously exploring ArcGIS Online.

It's unclear what exactly the motivation is for this change (or telling users about it a week after the change was in effect). Certainly Esri wants more subscribers to the service. Perhaps it's concerned users are not respecting the non-commerical usage restrictions. Perhaps there are far more personal accounts with private groups and items than it expected. 

If I remember my Chris Anderson (I read his book Free some time ago) correctly, those who offer freemium prodcuts are not supposed to take away existing free features to help conversion to paid. They  are to add features to the paid version.

Published Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Written by Adena Schutzberg

Published in

Esri Technology

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