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While other cloud storage vendors go out of their way to assure you privacy, Google Drive pretty much does quite the opposite, in language hidden in plain sight, right in the EULA. You should carefully read and consider this paragraph before storing anything private on your Google Drive.

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services …”

Granting themselves the right to “publicly display” my documents goes well beyond “the limited purpose of operating … and improving our Services, and to develop new ones”. I removed the word “promoting” from that sentence, which hardly sounds limited in purpose. To that I strongly object.

There will be an outcry about this, expect them to back off and limit the scope of this travesty. Just be careful what you upload until Google steps back from the dark side of this issue.

You might consider creating an encrypted/password protected, read/write disk image using Mac’s Disk Utility and copy that over to your cloud storage — which you can hide more sensitive documents in. Only you have the key/password, so make it strong and do not forget it! You’d have to open that image (but not download it) each time to read from or write into it and close it afterwards — but it’s contents will be hidden from server side search. Opening such an encrypted image can only be done from a Mac, not an iPhone nor iPad.

If you think about it, Google is in the business of selling targeted advertising against things it is able to sniff out about you through search. What better place to learn more about your interests and needs than snooping through your private documents? Gmail was a good start, now your digital filing cabinet could be next.

Don’t be surprised when a breath freshener advertisement pops up in Google Ads based on an OCR’d photo of a dentist’s bill, diagnosing halitosis — which you’re hiding from the world in your Google Drive. Just kidding, but you get my point!

Link Google Terms of Service

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One Comment

  1. From comment thread at: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/04/26/1518226/privacy-advocates-slam-google-drives-privacy-policies
    Dropbox:

    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. This includes product features visible to you, for example, image thumbnails or document previews. It also includes design choices we make to technically administer our Services, for example, how we redundantly backup data to keep it safe. You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services. This permission also extends to trusted third parties we work with to provide the Services, for example Amazon, which provides our storage space (again, only to provide the Services).

    Skydrive:

    If you share content in public areas of the service or in shared areas available to others you’ve chosen, then you agree that anyone you’ve shared content with may use that content. When you give others access to your content on the service, you grant them free, nonexclusive permission to use, reproduce, distribute, display, transmit, and communicate to the public the content solely in connection with the service and other products and services made available by Microsoft. If you don’t want others to have those rights, don’t use the service to share your content. You understand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service.

    Google Drive

    You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours. When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.


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  1. […] Read this before using your Google Drive for anything personal or in a corporate environment. Google’s […]

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