Q - How can we opt out from the arbitration clause of the new terms of service?
A - You don't have to, if you never agreed to anything, in the first place...
Just to be on the safe side (and show pro-active rejection), I would recommend sending and keeping proof of a certified mail to the published address of the company (in this case SE). If the letter is returned, you have a legal defense of having attempted to contact the company in "good faith" and the company not responding to their published address places "bad faith" on their own head.
First let me quantify my legal expertise. I am a USA Washington State paralegal - not a Lawyer, and as any lawyer will tell you, "my thoughts whether written or oral are an opinion until tested by a court of law".
For a contract to be binding it must at a minimum include:
- Date (valid period)
- Performance (what each party must do)
- Value (each party must give something of value)
- Meeting of the minds (clear understanding of obligation)
- Signature (commitment)
Now that the disclaimer is over, a principal of International and USA courts is there is no contractual obligation until there is a "meeting of the minds".
The LEGAL definition of "meeting of the minds" is both parties understand AND AGREE before obligating to the terms of a contract, what is expected to satisfy (called "performance") the contract and what should be done if a breach of the contract occurs. Recently, USA companies have been using (abusing) the "opt out" clause to buffalo the uninformed into thinking they are obligated to something they never agreed to :(
It is my opinion that "opt out" does not meet the contractual "meeting of the minds" and therefor is unenforceable, both in the USA and Internationally. Of course this is contingent on your war chest to defend yourself against a multi-million dollar legal adversary!
As an example, a ULA attempts to contractually bind a purchaser before they have read (opened a software package) prior to purchase. A ULA is a "Unlimited License Agreement" and according to the seller is a time-based contract for unlimited use. To my knowledge, no ULA seller (company) has ever successfully sued a purchaser for a undisclosed pre-purchase ULA violation.
Let me use an example; I take a document to a judge that says I own
everything you had because you did not not "opt out" of an email I sent
you. The judge will laugh me out of the court room, then kick me in the
south end onto the sidewalk because we never agreed to anything in
the first place!
In other words, an "opt out" provision in this context is a legal bluff and given enough money and time can be successfully defended against. This appears to be yet another SE disingenuous attempt (along with many other USA companies) to defend themselves against reasonable litigation after the Facebook expos'e.
As an aside, a general legal pretext is; "...what ever communication method was used to contact you is also valid for your response...". If THEY made legal notification by email, it is reasonable for YOU to respond via the same means - in layman's terms, "...what is good for the Goose, is good for the Gander".
NOTE: The USA holds itself to the precedent set by other International courts. In other words, if there is no precedence within the United States regarding the legality of a case, precedence already set in another country will be binding.
ALSO: United States Law says, except for rare circumstances, the Law where the individual resides, or where the violation occurred has precedence. So, the law of the land where the residence is living (for example, the USA "State"), or the country where the violation occurred will prevail.