The Devil Is In The Details. Is Google’s Drive just another Faustian app?

The Devil Is In The Details. Is Google’s Drive just another Faustian app?

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Google Drive

Google’s new cloud-based online storage service, Google Drive, is yet another Faustian app by any other name. By uploading content to Google Drive, you grant Google a irrevocable license to use your stuff – even after you stop using Drive.

Robert Johnson, Crossroads

Here’s the fine print from Google.

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.

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.

This licence continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps).

Compare Google’s terms to those of Dropbox:

By using our Services you provide us with information, files, and folders that you submit to Dropbox (together, “your stuff”). You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services, as explained below.

To be clear, aside from the rare exceptions we identify in our Privacy Policy, no matter how the Services change, we won’t share your content with others, including law enforcement, for any purpose unless you direct us to. How we collect and use your information generally is also explained in our Privacy Policy.

Will you dance with the Devil?

What others are saying about Google Drive:

Google Officially Launches Google Drive by Emily Price (Mashable)

What You Need To Know About The New Dropbox Challenger (Huffington Post)

Google clones Dropbox: lock, stock, and privacy gaffe by Ed Bott (ZDNet)

Google Outs Google Drive On Its French Blog by Frederic Lardinois (Techcrunch)

Google Drive Could Be Huge by Rob Koplowitz (Forrester)

How far does Google Drive’s terms go in ‘owning’ your files? by Zach Whittaker (ZDNet)

Stan Faryna
25 April 2012
Bucharest, Romania


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4 Responses to The Devil Is In The Details. Is Google’s Drive just another Faustian app?

  1. Excellent point. Thanks for pointing this out, Stan! I use Dropbox and am not inclined to move to Google Drive. Dropbox has better integration with apps. software, etc. even though it gives less storage space. Plus I want to own my stuff.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Your stuff should be your stuff – unless you make it a property of the commons. Anyone who creates anything of intimate or other value should eye Google’s terms with suspicion. Of course, it’s not that we should worry about what Google is doing today, but their highly questionable long-term intentions are unmistakable in the legalese.

  2. I’d strongly suggest reading Nilay Patel’s (who has a background as a lawyer, if I remember correctly) post about the differences between Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc. terms of service. Google is not acting evil, just the wording is more complicated. Look at the terms for Microsoft’s service and Google’s will seem a bit more angelic.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Thanks for the link.

      Google does evil. [wink] But so does Microsoft, Facebook, etc.

      Being one who has had intellectual property valued in the many millions stolen by titans (several times), I have pretty good instincts about where the language can go. But, I will admit that if you don’t have a multi-million dollar war chest, you can’t even enforce an agreement that was to your liking and benefit.

      I agree with you, James, that insofar as one does not create things of intense corporate or capital value, there is no reason to get excited.

      One might worry about intimate and confidential information but a hacker is more likely to have fun with your information than a Google.

      On the other hand, any of these services will likely profile you based on the stored content for the purpose of targeting you for advertising and marketing purposes of third parties. If you keep a lot of porn in the cloud, you know what to expect. [laughing]

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