I’ve always had the attitude that any company that has to remind it’s staff to ‘Do No Evil’ is either employing the wrong sort of people or is trying hard to hide the fact that they might not be paragons of virtue.
This week my increasingly hardcore anti-Google attitude was turned up another notch by the Terms and Conditions on their new ‘Google Drive’ product. Google Drive is Google’s answer to products like ‘Dropbox’ – look at it as an online hard disc that you can use for storing copies of your files, swapping files with other people, etc. In teh Terms and Conditions, Google rightly state that they respect your intellectual property rights, and that the rights to the data you upload stay with you. So far, so good. They also then say:
“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.”
Whoa, dude! From this it would appear that by uploading your stuff to the Googleplex, you’re providing them with source material for anything they wish to derive from the stuff you commit. Sort of like Facebook, but without poking… And Microsoft have a simnilar clause in their equivalent online Cloud storage service T&Cs.
The difference is that Microsoft and Facebook get ‘pulled’ fairly regularly for abuse of privacy, attitudes towards standard, Intellectual Property and Patent enforcement, what have you. But Google still seem to be the Teflon boys of the modern IT landscape. I have to say that I now regard Google as a bigger threat to my privacy and to the general health of the information landscape than Facebook or Microsoft. Why?
Google own increasingly large amounts of the search landscape; like ‘Hoover’ they are a brand that has become a verb. People tend to Google rather than Search the Internet; businesses have been known to fail when Google modify their search algorithms. The data that we pass through Google – even when we’re not logged in – can still be logged against our IP address and passed on to the US Government (as well as being used within Google itself for various purposes). Despite this I still use Google – because there is not yet an equivalent that is as good. Microsoft Bing is getting there, but has a way to go, and I guess that that is how many people who are uncomfortable about Google but still use them feel.
There’s an old saying saying along the lines of ‘If you’re not paying for the service, you’re being sold.’ Maybe it’s time for the unthinkable – a paid for search provider. I’d be very tempted to pay for a good search service that was curated enough to remove the crap, whilst not threatening my privacy or intellectual property. A new frontier for entrepreneurs?