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Google Drive privacy policy: Big Brother is watching?

Google Drive, the company’s new cloud storage system has just launched in the US. An examination of the privacy options reveals some confusion over what Google can actually do with your files.

Privacy on the internet is a touchy subject at the best of times, with a whole host of personal and private information submitted and stored to the likes of Google and Microsoft.

Google Drive infront of Dropbox and SkyDrive

Google Drive’s Privacy Policy is a little confusing: “Some of our Services allow you to submit content. 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 licence 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 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”

At first look, it appears as if this last passage grants Google a free access-all-areas pass to any of the personal files users decide to store on Google Drive. Who wants to do that?  Interestingly it’s just to help improve it, but potentially ‘promote’ it too, so could your information be used in a Google advert? Potentially if it’s in the public domain.

But Google Drive’s privacy policy is similar to all the main players in the cloud storage arena: Apple, Dropbox and Microsoft, its just a little more explicit in it’s language. The Verge has compared them all in detail here

It might not be Google users need to be concerned about. Rebecca Jeschke from the Electronics Frontier Foundation spoke to Ars Technica: “In light of Megaupload, it’s possible that users are worried about the wrong thing… Files stored in the cloud can still be easily lost or subpoenaed without the users’ knowledge.’

Ultimately if you’re not happy with Google Drive’s policy, then don’t use it, or pick an alternative.


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