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Google Drive privacy policy broad but typical

4/30/2012

Google recently launched Google Drive, a cloud-based file storage service, which prompted technology news website The Verge to scrutinize the new service's privacy policy and terms of use agreement.

There actually is no Google Drive-specific privacy policy, The Verge noted, because Google recently consolidated its services' disparate policies into a single umbrella policy - a move that caused a great deal of controversy, including charges that it violated the European Union's privacy laws. However, The Verge said there is nothing especially controversial about the policy as it applies to Google Drive, and it is very similar to the policies of similar services, such as Dropbox and Microsoft's SkyDrive.

Critics of the Google privacy policy have argued it is too sweeping, the source said. The policy explicitly says that by uploading content to Google Drive, a user grants permission for Google to "host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works … communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."

This is giving Google a lot of rights, The Verge noted; however, Google needs all these rights to do basic, essential things like create thumbnail images of user content.

Dropbox's privacy policy is phrased in a "friendlier" way than Google's, according to The Verge, while SkyDrive's policy is "a masterpiece of plain-language legal dealing." However, all the policies essentially communicate the same things. Ultimately, the source said, it will be the actions of these companies rather than their policies that instill trust in consumers - or don't.

Another issue to keep in mind when dealing with cloud storage is the location of physical servers, which could determine whether law enforcement has the right to access stored data, according to the Los Angeles Times. Unlike most other cloud storage services, the Times said, Dropbox's terms of service say it will not share content with law enforcement without user permission.