Yesterday’s launch of Google Drive was another big day in a series of big days for the search giant. And you can read raving reviews about how awesome the service is (or soon will be) all over the Web. There’s one thing, however, that isn’t being talked about too much: the Google Drive Terms of Service.
USA TODAY’s Mark W. Smith brought something to my attention on Twitter when he tweeted: “Google Drive users: The TOS? ‘You give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, reproduce’ …” I immediately scurried off to read the terms of service and am much less inclined to use Drive now. I should probably state the fact that I am an avid Dropbox user. I love the service, but I was willing to give Google Drive a legitimate chance. I’m not so sure anymore.
Here is the full text from Drive’s TOS:
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.
What worries me about the TOS is what Smith pointed out: Google effectively owns whatever content users upload to the cloud, and by uploading to Drive, users give Google permission to essentially do whatever it wants with their stuff. I’m aware that Google Drive – like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, et al – is a free service, but I still don’t like that Google can be so willy-nilly with the notion of content ownership. And in situations like this (as well as SOPA, CISPA, etc.) I tend to go straight to the worst-case scenario in my head: my content being sold by Google to some other third-party company without my consent.
If Google wants to sell my search data to advertisers so they can pinpoint ads specific to me, I’m cool with that. It’s all professional hockey and SEO-related stuff anyway. But I’m not OK with Google selling/using what I worked to produce. This officially sealed the deal to stay with Dropbox, as its terms of service doesn’t contain any language that even implies it will use my content for any reason.
“Don’t Be Evil,” eh? I’m not buying it, Google. What do you guys think?