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Google Drive vs. Dropbox Terms of Service (curiousrat.com)
230 points by zachh on Apr 26, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments



On the other hand, this post from The Verge explains what is actually going on: http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/25/2973849/google-drive-terms...

The important quote: "Looking at some of Google's competitors, it's clear that they need the exact same permissions — they just use slightly more artful language to communicate them."

All of these services need similar permissions, as do most web services: it's just an artifact of how our copyright law works. Google does a bad job of expressing that reality as nicely as others (like Dropbox), but with almost equivalent permissions, I'd put them pretty far down on the list of companies not to trust.


Excellent article. I particularly liked this observation regarding verbiage in the Dropbox TOS: "That language is definitely friendlier than Google's, but it's actually more expansive, since it's more vague."

As laypersons, we may feel more comfortable when companies avoid legalese and use straight talk, but that doesn't mean we are any more safer or protected.


The article posted here on HN cheats by including an important sentence from the DropBox TOS and sneakily omitting the corresponding sentence from the Google TOS.

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

Google: The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.


Those sentences do not say the same thing. Most worrying: "promoting" in the Google terms.


"solely" is a pretty important word in "solely to provide the Services".


Google's is worse because it takes all rights to use your work however it likes, and then states in its privacy policy that it won't use it for anything other than to provide the service. But if it likes, it can amend the privacy policy in the future to remove or modify that limitation. So you have to trust Google, which may be fine now, but what about in 20 years? They have rights to your work forever.

Other providers clearly state that they are only taking rights to your work for the purpose of providing the service, right in the ToS. IANAL, but this seems important.


I'm confused. You say Google "states in its privacy policy that it won't use it for anything other than to provide the service", but that's not good enough, because they can amend it later to remove that protection.

How is that different from the other providers, who (as you said, again) "clearly state that they are only taking rights to your work for the purpose of providing the service"? What is different about them which stops them from amending their policies?


> I'm confused.

No, you're not. You identified a crystal clear double standard in your parent post.


>Google's is worse because it takes all rights to use your work however it likes, and then states in its Privacy Ppolicy that it won't use it for anything other than to provide the service.

Please point to the part of the Privacy Policy that deal with "my works" or "works that I create and own". I think if you look closely, the PP only deal with information Google collects about your usage of the service, which is quite different to works you upload to Drive.


The Verge article is very good at explaining the actual details. However, although IANAL, I think they missed on one part of their explanation:

They say: But what about that line about granting rights for "promoting and improving our Services," you ask? ... and then conclude that sort of behavior is forbidden by the Google privacy policy

but part of the Privacy Policy they quote also says: We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones,...

So it would seem to me that legally that's still a fairly wide scope for what they could potentially do under the umbrella of improving existing and developing new services.

The article highlights a different part of the Privacy Policy: We will ask for your consent before using information for a purpose other than those that are set out in this Privacy Policy. ... but given the previous clause, there seems to be a pretty big umbrella of things that _are_ set out in the Privacy Policy.

I'd put them pretty far down on the list of companies not to trust.

I think this is the bottom line in both The Verge article and your comment - whether you trust the company is ultimately more important than the details of the ToS.


How do you trust a company? Many trusted Sun with Java, and we see what that got us.


Complete FUD. Best article I've read on this is from The Verge. Google would be unable to create backups or thumbnails for example without these rights.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/25/2973849/google-drive-terms...


Holy cow -- Apple says they may delete any iCloud content that they find "objectionable"? And that they have a right to scan your content to determine such?

Jaw drop

I store at the pleasure of the King.


Problem is: the rights as worded by Google allow a whole lot more than the reasonable-use wording by Dropbox. Remember that recent flap about iOS apps uploading users' entire Contacts list for non-relevant uses? hey, users gave permission for the apps to access that data without explicit limits; same idea, same concerns.


>Problem is: the rights as worded by Google allow a whole lot more than the reasonable-use wording by Dropbox.

They actually don't. Google specifically enumerates the rights that you're granting them. Dropbox actually does not state specifically what rights Dropbox needs to provide the services, and as such, could claim that you're granting all of the rights that Google has granted and more. This does not include full ownership, which they explicitly deny.


>Google specifically enumerates the rights that you're granting them

They sure do. It just turns out one of these rights is that they can use your content for promotional purposes (advertising?).

Dropbox may not have such a detailed TOS, but they are clear on one thing: whatever rights you do grant them are solely for the provision of the service to you.


The problem is that Dropbox may, at their sole discretion, decide that providing ads is part of "the Service". Under their TOS, they could do that without changing it.

Realistically, Dropbox won't ever do that. But the key thing here is that Dropbox's TOS does not explicitly state exactly what rights they believe they need to operate with.


note that google also has a privacy policy in addition to a TOS. Most of the hypothetical horrible things that people are assuming the TOS allows google to do with your data are forbidden by their privacy policy.


No. If they are to enable you to share a document you need to give them license to do so. If they are to create copies of the files across datacenters and employ OCR on images and use that to improve their algorithms, they need to inlucde that in their terms of service to avoid getting sued.


"use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works[...], communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."

That's very different from what you are describing.


I'm not so sure about that. Use, host, store, reproduce are no-brainers. Modify and create derivative works are for thumbnails, OCRing, converting to other formats for displaying. The rest are for sharing with friends, or the world, right?

Edit: Read stuartmemo's The Verge article if you're interested, it's pretty insightful.


As phrased, the agreement would let Google publish, for open searchable access by the world, all files from all users. Indeed, methinks Google's whole underlying goal in all their endeavors is to mine data they'd not get thru other means. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be hard-pressed to believe Google isn't (or just hasn't gotten there but intends to someday) scouring every GMail, every Chrome OS click, every OCRed image (even every snapshot just in case some text may be discerned), etc. to feed back into their grand ads-placed-via-data-mining profit center - it's just what they do; they may not do it (yet) in any way revealing private details, but they're sure not providing all these free services and tools out of sheer good will.

You're thinking in terms of what reasonable uses the terms apply to. The problem is what UNreasonable uses are allowed by those who consent to those terms. Publish the entire private works (at least those docs stored on Google Drive) of yesbabyyes in a collectable volume? you agreed to it...


It's extremely likely that Google will search your personal data for ad targeting purposes. It's what their entire company exists to do.

The only way I'd believe they won't do it is if they VERY publicly state that they won't in completely unequivocal terms such that they'll be held liable if they do.


> As phrased, the agreement would let Google publish, for open searchable access by the world, all files from all users.

This would be corporate suicide and Google won't do this unless they fall to the current status of the like of AOL. At which point we will all have moved on to the next shiny object.


You may move on, but their backups of your data won't.


Well, first off, Google has a privacy policy [1] where they commit to not publishing my entire works without my consent.

Even without that, though -- what do you think would happen if they did what you're suggesting? I think the public punishment would be worse than any legal repercussions.

And that's what it comes down to, IMO. I regret that we have to have these far reaching policies and agreements filled with legalese, but there is also the social contract.

Of course, what you say about data mining for ads is true. If you don't want to expose yourself to that, don't expose your data to Google.

[1] http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/


> Well, first off, Google has a privacy policy [1] where they commit to not publishing my entire works without my consent.

It doesn't say that anywhere. The Privacy Policy covers "What information we collect and why we collect it.". In other words, the PP is about information they collect about you using the service, not stuff you upload to Drive. Think IP addresses, cookies, log-on times etc.

> Even without that, though -- what do you think would happen if they did what you're suggesting? I think the public punishment would be worse than any legal repercussions.

So your saying that TOS don't matter and we shouldn't read or analyse them because we trust Google wont do anything untoward? So we are we even having this discussion in the first place then?


> It doesn't say that anywhere. The Privacy Policy covers "What information we collect and why we collect it.". In other words, the PP is about information they collect about you using the service, not stuff you upload to Drive. Think IP addresses, cookies, log-on times etc.

I'm not so sure about that:

  We collect information in two ways:

  - Information you give us. [...]
  - Information we get from your use of our services. [...]

  [...]

  We will ask for your consent before using information for a
  purpose other than those that are set out in this Privacy Policy.
> So your saying that TOS don't matter and we shouldn't read or analyse them because we trust Google wont do anything untoward?

Of course we should. And when we've read them, we should realize that if we want to use such services, we need to assign the provider certain rights to the content. Otherwise, the services couldn't exist. I'm just saying that I think the social contract is actually stronger, so the fallout from bad behavior would be worse punishment than the slaps on the wrist the US government would give. Of course, you don't have to agree with that, it's my belief.

> So we are we even having this discussion in the first place then?

Why indeed. Perhaps because more people have read lazy analyses such as the one linked, than honest analyses such as the one by The Verge (or even, gasp, read the whole actual TOS and made their on analysis), which several people has linked to in the comments. I suggest you read it.

Edit: Formatting, more nuanced language.


Why not make the ToS incremental so you agree as-and-when you use the relevant part of the service. Click share "Do you authorise Google to share this document yada-yada", done.

Most users will only consume part of the service, why should they have to agree to 100%?


I really don't want a dialog box with an "I agree" checkbox every time I make a minor action in a web interface.


Not every time, just the first time.


No, it's not. "Publicly perform"?! Tell me in what reasonable backup scenario would google need the right to publicly perform your content? It's not reasonable at all; it's egregious and honestly insulting.

Look, I get it: the chances of Google acting on these rights are small and the PR backlash for abuse would be brutal. But this is a great example of a legal department _far_ overreaching in their corporate protection efforts.

I really want to use GDrive, but even if the odds of abuse are unimaginable, I really hate that they make me sign a contract that makes me out to be a functional idiot. "Sign away all your legal rights--it's okay because you can trust us."


If you share a public link, maybe? If you use their website to stream a song to an audience?


>No, it's not. "Publicly perform"?! Tell me in what reasonable backup scenario would google need the right to publicly perform your content? It's not reasonable at all; it's egregious and honestly insulting.

Youtube.


Exactly. The same FUD was being spread around a while back regarding google's terms as related to photo sharing on G+. Google needs these rights to provide certain features...


Was it Facebook that used someone's photo of themselves in an advert - claiming that it fell under "we can use your images for any purpose" ?


I suspect you are misremembering either a real story about an advertiser using someone's photo without permission or rumours based on it that occasionally become popular.

An advertiser once, against the FB terms of service, used a user's profile picture in their advertising. The advertiser was banned from the platform. Here's a news story that might jog your memory on this: http://mashable.com/2009/07/17/facebook-dating-ads-2/


Looks like you're absolutely correct - there's FB blog post from a while back talking about how this is something that they will not do: http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=110636457130


That sounds about right. I'm not intimately familiar with FB's terms of use - I'm not sure if there is some differentiation between how they can use your other content and how they can use your profile / profile photo, etc. I haven't heard of Google doing anything like that though, but then their advertising model is a bit different.


Yet, with those rights, Google are able to (worldwide) ; create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

I mean "publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content", how on earth can you formulate that so broadly for a service intended to store private files??? And how after reading that can you qualify it as "Complete FUD"?

In depth analysis are interesting and everybody here understand that google is not going to be THAT evil in the short term, but the fact this _is_ formulated like that is very interesting and not fud at all.


Google can only do those rights. They cannot sell your content, for example, because it is not enumerated in the list.

Dropbox, on the other hand, could, theoretically decide that they want to sell your information as a part of the service, and their TOS allows it.

Also keep in mind that this is Google's unified TOS for ALL Google services and products. So it includes Youtube and Google Music, both of which require those rights in order to function.


To me, Google's terms imply an intention to use my data for certain things that I don't want them to, like promoting the service.


A blog post saying "We have 20 petabytes of data in Google Drive" would be promoting the service with your data. Lawyers are always going to argue for the vaguest terms possible in situations like this.


Under Google's TOS they can promote their service by posting my pictures in advertisements on other pages, under the title, "Look what other people are storing on Google Drive."


Sure, and see virtually every user flee the service. It wouldn't be shocking if Congress and the FTC got involved in such a situation, either - they got involved in Google's P3P non-policy, for example.

TOSes are generally overly broad, yes. Virtually every one you've ever agreed to had language that could be interpreted in an absurdly negative manner.


"Sure, and see virtually every user flee the service. It wouldn't be shocking if Congress and the FTC got involved in such a situation, either - they got involved in Google's P3P non-policy, for example."

Well then they shouldn't have a problem amending the TOS, right? If they know what's okay and what's going too far, they must have some idea where the line is.

"TOSes are generally overly broad, yes. Virtually every one you've ever agreed to had language that could be interpreted in an absurdly negative manner."

Dropbox's TOS seems pretty clear on the matter.


> Well then they shouldn't have a problem amending the TOS, right? If they know what's okay and what's going too far, they must have some idea where the line is.

Being extremely specific in TOSes tends to lead to lots and lots of revisions as you discover unexpected cases. As a user, I'd prefer a TOS that's a little more broad instead of having to monitor it every five minutes for tweaks.

> Dropbox's TOS seems pretty clear on the matter.

Dropbox's TOS for years was similar to Drive's. I'd expect Google to eventually make the same clarifications in the TOS Dropbox did in 2011.

That said, while we're being paranoid about TOSes, Dropbox's says they can change the terms at any point, and not notify you beyond updating them on their site. They could change the terms to "we will publicly share everything you've ever put on Dropbox with your worst enemies" tomorrow, and the next time you sync you're theoretically subject to the new terms.


While they reserve the right to change it I'd like to see such a massive change of intent stand up to a lawsuit.


You may be right, but that doesn't prevent them from using those same rights for other purposes (much like TSA searches being used to find drugs rather than terrorism).

If Google really means it, and wants it to be clear, they could put it right into the TOS: "Google may do X, when it does so in order to provide feature Y".


Doesn't this part of the TOS say exactly that?:

"The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."


Let's say Mark Zuck. wants to use Google Drive, and upload all Facebook code on it. Using this TOS, it allows Google to go through the Facebook code, and use it to improve Google+.

As a programmer that uses Dropbox to backup all my code, I find this a little bit scary.


If you are concerned with storing your code on a service, perhaps you shouldn't store your code on that service?

The way I see it, they could go through your code and use your secret sauce, in secret. Now, with these TOS, let's say they are in the clear, legally. Now weigh the punishment Dropbox would receive for breaching your copyright, vs the punishment they would receive for using their users'/customers' data immorally, for their own gain.


There's only one word I have issues with in the entire TOS, and that's "promoting". Basically they can do the same annoying thing Facebook does when they use your face to recommend pages to other people. Google could potentially use your stuff to build ads for Drive.


I can't think of any possible workable scheme for implementing that, that makes any kind of sense in any universe real or imagined.

"Store your spreadsheets! Just like Joe Blow's 2012 sales forecast! (link to preview)"


They could use the best photos in a collage or something. Be creative :)


Perhaps Google will "publicly perform" your private photo album in Times Square for the purpose of "promoting" their Services.


"Develop new ones" is quite a broad clause !

eg. Rounding up non-gingers to be put in cages above pools of lava would be allowed


These are the same types of arguments that a few of the more vocal but ill-informed professional photographers out there use to spread FUD about photo sharing sites like Flickr, etc.

The bottom line is that you, as a user, have to grant such a license to Google, Flickr, etc in order for them to be able to provide the services that you want. Its a copyright issue, and I haven't seen any other good way around it in anyone else's TOS yet and I've read quite a few.


How come dropbox, skydrive don't need such perpetual blanket permission to provide exactly same service.


From stuartmemo's comment, which you replied to:

http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/25/2973849/google-drive-terms...

> The Verge: "Is Google Drive worse for privacy than iCloud, Skydrive, and Dropbox?"

Short answer: no.


reading the article mentioned Skydrive: (GRANT ALL)..."posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service"

GDrive: (GRANT ALL)..."the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."

Services vs. Service, Promoting vs providing

will showing book drafts being created by me on Google Books is promoting/improving there service, yep. Google may not do so ever, but you have to trust them instead of being on TOS.


> Complete FUD.

Care to provide backup to this claim? Privacy issues and property rights on Google services seem very real to me.


I agree it's a lot of FUD around this subject. I started to have some weird thoughts that Dropbox is creating all this FUD


"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 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 (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

You can find more information about how Google uses and stores content in the privacy policy or additional terms for particular Services. If you submit feedback or suggestions about our Services, we may use your feedback or suggestions without obligation to you."


Its the derivative works that I am worried about. But in context it may just be "thumbnails" or other things for searching content.


Editing a shared Google Docs document is inherently creating derivative works. You and anyone editing with you are asking Google to change the original document via HTTP requests. Each edit is a derivative work of the original document you uploaded to Google Docs, so of course Google needs to be allowed to do this as part of its license to use your data.


Yep. Thumbnails, PDFs, showing excerpts when you search for a document, etc. could all probably be argued to be "derivative works". It's a little crazy that our legal system makes you CYA this much, but it's often necessary.


It's "developing new services" which essentially opens the door for Google to do anything they want.

Dropbox has to justify anything it does with your work in terms of providing a service to you. Google can justify doing things with your data solely for it's own benefit.


If Google compresses, re-encodes, or encrypts the files, they're creating derivative works. Google needs those rights in order to actually store the data.


I do agree that Dropbox's wording is much friendlier, but I attribute most of the difference to Google having big plans (e.g., searching and sharing) and being careful that their terms will permit them. I suspect a big part of this is Google's intention to analyze your data to make it indexed/searchable (e.g., their 'search for Mt. Everest and get back your pictures of it' features).


Really, the difference seems to be almost exclusively wording. Both licenses grant very broad powers to the service to redistribute (Google is guilty only of enumerating them more fully, where Dropbox simply claims "all the permissions we need"). Both providers include language that they will only do this in order "to provide the service", but neither enumerates exactly what that means.

Does anyone see anything specific that Dropbox can't do that Google can? That grant looks really broad to me, just ... friendlier.


What people are noticing is perceived intent. Dropbox is clear what their intent is. Google is less clear. People like clarity, especially ewhen dealing with personal items.


Google: "The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."

Dropbox: "You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services."

I'm not sure there's any difference in intent or clarity here. I think it's clear that Dropbox is nicer about it. And because their product is smaller in scope maybe the rights they reserve seem less scary.

But really, I think this is a giant kerfuffle over nothing (fueled in no small part by the "Dropbox is on the HN team" feeling here). These licenses look almost 100% equivalent to me.


What isn't clear in "promoting" the Services?

Google can broadcast TV ads with your private photos if they want to.


No, they can't; don't be silly. That's not what "promoting" means, and in any case such a use would be a clear copyright violation (note elsewhere in the license where they make it clear that you still own the copyright). It seems clear to me that the intent is things like the Youtube "recommended" list. If you upload a public video, they need permission to repackage it for display in other contexts than direct viewing.

But if you insist on reading the license that uncharitably, you have to accept that Dropbox too can find plenty of wiggle room to be evil. Seriously, you're granting "all needed permissions" without enumeration -- you don't find that scary? What if Dropbox decides that "providing the service" requires revenue gained from scraping credit card numbers from stored files? See? I can come up with equally silly scenarios.


First off, if it's not clear, these are excerpts of their policies.

>Dropbox is clear what their intent is.

It seems that you have it backwards, Dropbox is not clear in their intent and the language is vague. I'm not sure what this means:

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

It seems that they can pretty much do whatever they want, as "Services" doesn't preclude anything.

>This permission also extends to trusted third parties we work with to provide the Services

That sounds like third parties can do whatever they want as well.


If you're truly concerned about your data integrity build a TrueCrypt volume within the Goog Drive / Dropbox.

Despite what the TOS says on either end there are always going to be breaches, court orders, or potentially even employees with the power to access your files.


I have found quite a few people recommend this, and never understood the point - if all you want is a "cloud" backup of your opaque data, simply use tarsnap. cheap, easy, brilliant piece of engineering. Or heck, use backblaze with their unlimited storage plan!

The trouble with building a truecrypt volume inside GDrive/Dropbox etc is that this makes the data completely opaque to the service. You give up all integration with google docs, easy sharing via links, collaboration, everything. Why use these services at all if you don't need the features they provide over and above basic backup?


The price is right!


Or just use something like spideroak (with which I have no affiliation), which encrypts everything on your device before uploading it to their servers.


Doesn't allow me to access my files on my Android device. I sometimes like to access a PDF, or word document :(.


TC volume needs to be unmounted in order for gDrive/Dropbox to be able to sync it. For that you need to close all apps that are currently using any files on that volume. That's not exactly easy-breezy. In fact, it's a major pain in the ass, so - no, this is not a practical option.


What about using encfs?


On Windows?


So if you want to change one bit, the whole freaking volume has to be uploaded again?


Disk encryption is usually block-based.

(disclaimer: I know nothing about TrueCrypt).


You can try using http://www.boxcryptor.com/, up to 2gb free, it encrypts separate files and not entire volume.


That's standard wording allowing them to provide the content to you on any device you access the services from over the internet (i.e. publicly).

http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=%22a+w...


Y no one compares them to skydrive?

«we don't claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content. We also don't control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the service.»

« we may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications, in order to: (a) comply with the law or respond to lawful requests or legal process; (b) protect the rights or property of Microsoft or our customers, including the enforcement of our agreements or policies governing your use of the service; or (c) act on a good faith belief that such access or disclosure is necessary to protect the personal safety of [ppl]»


There's been several articles on this topic, and I don't understand why they all seem to ignore this line in Google's TOS: "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."

These terms are across all of Google's services, and of course they need to state these sorts of things to keep themselves covered.


“I don't understand why they all seem to ignore this line in Google's TOS.”

Because not many people are good at reading and at understanding what they read.

Which, here, is this:

Gmail or Google Docs/Drive or Google Apps are not among Google’s services that “allow you to submit content”. You don’t submit anything to them. A service like YouTube, on the other hand, is, and it obviously needs such terms in order to operate.


Dropbox had the same issue in 2011. Their TOS was very similar to Google Drive's, for the same reasons - lawyers putting CYA language in.

http://blog.dropbox.com/?p=846 http://blog.dropbox.com/?p=867


Yeah, and Dropbox fixed it after public complaint. It's amazing to me Google would launch with a license with the same problem.


Frankly, I'd be surprised if Drive didn't get an addendum to the TOS to address the concerns. Lawyers don't often have 24 hour turnarounds on this sort of change.


> Dropbox had the same issue in 2011. Their TOS was very similar to Google Drive's,

Yes but Dropbox doesn't have the reach and amount of data gathering power Google has. Google is actively monitoring hundreds to thousands of personal data gathering systems, whereas Dropbox is only a cloud storage system. There IMO lies the difference.


The exact same language is in the Google terms of service, so if you use Gmail, your emails are covered by the same language.

Clearly, this is lawyer boilerplate being taken out of context.

http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/


"if you use Gmail"

Yes, Gmail has the same issue. Google can use your data "to develop new services" for it's own benefit.


> Google can use your data "to develop new services" for it's own benefit.

Which sounds nasty, until you realize they potentially need such language to be able to do something as simple as implementing a better spam filter, or offline syncing for your e-mail.


That doesn't however explain why they need such language for drive.

Furthermore, Google could, like dropbox, limit their use of your data to providing or improving the services they provide you. Spam filtering and syncing resonably fall in that category.


> That doesn't however explain why they need such language for drive.

Google just recently went through a unification of their disparate privacy policies, terms of service, etc. I also don't see why Google wouldn't want to add services to Drive down the road...


Unification of Google's privacy policies was done for Google's benefit.

Furthermore, as an explanation for why these policies should apply to drive, it begs the question.


There's a significant benefit to users from having fewer policies applying to Google's many services.


We may need your permission to do things you ask us to do with your stuff, for example [..]. This includes [..]. It also includes [..]. You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services.

So I give Dropbox full access to do things with my stuff? Seriously? IANAL, but doesn't that include more than what Google says?

Also note that Google has this line (you know, just above the paragraph that was quoted in the article): 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.


> So I give Dropbox full access to do things with my stuff?

Why'd you leave out the "things you ask us to do" bit?

"You give us permission to kick you in the balls" sounds bad in a contract if you leave out the "because you're signing up to become a mixed martial arts combatant" bit, too.


How did you get to "So I give Dropbox full access to do things with my stuff?" from what Dropbox put, I personally did not interrupt it that way at all...


Looks like Google accidentally started two memes this month: #whitespace and #selectivelyquoteprivacypolicy


I'm actually not so worried about the privacy of the files I might put in GDrive. The handful of files I really care about (financial data etc) I store in other ways.

But I am worried about having my Google account yanked out from under me. I'm simply not willing to depend on one capricious company with no customer support for email, phone, storage, online collaboration, chat, social etc. Ironically the harder Google tries to squeeze all their services together the less inclined I am to use any individual service.


If I understand Google's ToS right, you are giving them a license to do pretty much anything with the data you upload to Drive. For instance, if you backup your git repo to Drive, Google's engineers have a license to take your source code and incorporate it into their own products. Now of course Google's not actually going to do that. So why not make the license say that?

Google is using a generic ToS for all their products, but it's not appropriate to products that host valuable intellectual property.


Because it's impractical to create a TOS that defines all possible ways they might need to use that data in order to provide the service (from any court's viewpoint) but also explicitly carve out that usage. If re-using the code as you posit is indistinguishable (legally) from a valid use of the data they need in order to provide the service, they're not going to carve it out of the TOS. It's better to not attempt that, and let you (as the customer) pick if you're okay with that. If you find the risk unacceptable, don't use the service. To some degree that's a better outcome than exposing the host to a ton of legal risk.


While it's obvious Google isn't planning to rape, pillage and publish your private files, their terms of service are starting on the wrong foot.

Ask for the base permissions you need and work from there. This is even more important when you're not a Google. Explain what you need and why to give them what they want from you, earn their trust and karma.

More importantly, if you sell off your company later, they will protect your users from those who might take a more liberal view of the TOS.


Dropbox writing their TOS in a way that non-lawyers can read it was a good move here. Neither TOS really effects anything being done with your data in a practical way but the PR Dropbox is getting from theirs is worth 100x the time they put into it. Nice investment.


It's the derivative works part of the T&Cs for GDrive that makes it a little wonky, I don't want to give them full license to create any derivative work but I'm happy with them making changes for technical architecture.

But that's so selective and does miss the part where they say your content and copyright is all yours, so it justifies picking on Google for being supposedly creepy.


As others have mentioned, it probably is about producing thumbnails of images or something like that.

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

This give Dropbox the ability to modify your images to create thumbnails as well if that's a part of their service. It also allows them to do whatever else they want without being explicit and hiding behind vague wording.


Amendment of a Privacy Policy doesn't retroactively apply the policy to all the data previously provided to the service without first consulting the user.

If that is the case then they need to make the user ACCEPT the new terms before this can be done. (This is what is happening whenever you are forced to accept an amended TOS before returning to a service.)


One thing is that the phrasing of Google's terms is more open, more importantly: I would rather like to store my files with someone that are in the business of storing files - than someone that is in the business of making "everything" searchable (for anyone?)


If any of this blather is an attempt to prevent me from giving my money to Google instead of Dropbox, mission failed. Pay 2 to 4 times as much for the same service? I don't think so. Google wins, T. K. O., pwned with a capital P.


can I encrypt it first...


I think this image nicely compares the TOS for Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft's Sky Drive: https://twitter.com/#!/jmacdonald/status/195184740209401856/...


Yup. This is EXACTLY what I knew Google would try to pull. There is no way I'm switching from Dropbox to one of the shadiest online companies out there.


Sounds a little tin-foil hat to me. Care you justify your hyperbole?


https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&#... (PUN intended on using Google to show you some of many complaints towards their policies...)



DID lol.




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