By Ezra Brook
April 27, 2012

The Wary and the Watchful: Google Drive Terms of Service and Privacy Policies

Google launched “Google Drive” on April 24, 2012. And, the wary and the watchful must also have their say. They warn us not to jump into the fray without weighing our options. The warnings are loud. In fact, they are being shouted over rooftops. We are being asked to check on Google Drives terms of service before we take the plunge!

Interpretations of the terms of service have been floating around since the day Google Drive launched. The most critical of them point out that Google is a company that sells ads. The more data you give them the more likely they compromise your privacy as Google attempts to sell its ad on the strength of your data. While there is no Google Drive Privacy Policy, a close look terms ad conditions and privacy policy of Google (which applies to Google Drive now) reveals that the fears are not founded on facts. Google’s terms and privacy policies are as good as anyone else’s in the market. The bottom line is “how much are you willing to trust your service provider?” Does the provider have a squeaky clean reputation or is there some doubt in your mind?

Let us look at some of the Google’s Terms and Privacy policy and that of the competitors in context. Google Privacy policy clearly states that:

1. Your intellectual property remains yours under all circumstances.

2. As a copyright holder you have certain rights you can give Google. These include the a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content…for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.

3. But, Google cannot use the information for any other purpose other than “development of their services” without the consent of the copyright owner. This is stipulated in the Privacy Policy.

Dropbox’s or Microsoft’s terms of service do not use the elaborate verbose language used by Google. But, they essentially state the same thing:

1. You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it.

2. We may need your permission to do things you ask us to do with your stuff, for example, hosting your files, or sharing them at your direction.

3. You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services.

In fact, the lack of elaboration makes the boundaries vague and the assurances of privacy and security weaker. If your data is too sensitive for you to host it in the cloud, or you are paranoid, then you shouldn’t use Google Drive or any other cloud storage service. But, if you decide to use one, check out the top ranked online backup list.

So, what is all the noise about? Are interpreters relying on extraneous material in their interpretation?

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney – this is just my opinion.

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