Google Drive Has World-Wide Rights To All Your Data!

On the 24th April, Google finally launched its new cloud storage service, Google Drive offering 5GB of storage space for free with paid upgrades available. The cloud storage market is a crowded one, with players offering backup services, sync or simple storage; so I was thinking, those guys at Google better have a differentiator… It turns out they do, and it’s quite a serious one, it’s in the T&Cs (March 2012).

“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 perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

You might want to read that again. I’ll wait…

OK, so now you’ve had time to digest that, it’s worth pointing out that the terms go on to specify further:

“The rights that you grant in this licence are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.” (my emphasis), and finish with a flourish… “This licence continues even if you stop using our Services.”

Compare that with the terms from my company’s own SafeSync service: “Trend Micro does not claim any ownership rights in your files” (not to mention we encrypt all your data in storage too) you can appreciate why Google’s universal policy is so troubling to me.

Google recently unified their Terms & Conditions along with their Privacy and other policies, that is the reason they refer constantly to “our Services” (although I have to admit to being baffled by the capital “S”).

So consider the implications of this if you’re a mail, apps, YouTube, maps and social networking customer of Google. The privacy policy that applies to all of them, including your lovely new storage says “We may combine personal information from one service with information, including personal information, from other Google services”.

I’m sure that the assertion of perpetual, world-wide rights over their customers’ intellectual property and the use cases of promoting, improving or developing new services based on that content is just the result of over-zealous lawyers attempting to head any potential future law-suit off at the proverbial pass rather than an outright attempt to go against their in formal motto “Don’t be evil“.

The more I think about it, the Borg weren’t really evil either, right? Just improving their Services.

As Solutions Architect for Trend Micro, Rik Ferguson interacts with CIOs from a wide variety of blue chip enterprises, government institutions, law enforcement organisations. Recognised as an industry thought leader and analyst, Rik is regularly quoted by the press on issues surrounding Information Security, Cybercrime and technology futures. With over 15 years experience in the IT Industry with companies such as EDS, McAfee and Xerox Rik’s broad experience enables him to have a clear insight into the challenges and issues facings businesses today.