Google recently launched its foray into the world of cloud storage with Google Drive, hoping to become competitive in an area becoming more and more crowded. Although many companies around the world offer similar services, it does make a lot of sense for Google to venture into the not so foreign territory, seeing that many or their services are already cloud based, like Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and Google Music.
That means that for people who use a lot of these services, the integration into Google Drive should be seamless. However, some factions around the world have become very vocal about the Terms of Service. Scanning through the latest terms, it‘s the second paragraph that is disquieting:
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).
Actually, this is now the Terms of Service for all of their online entities, including Google+. As the majority of Google‘s revenue comes from advertising, this agreement is meant to allow Google the right to use, it seems, ALL your content for their marketing purposes or to improve on the services they already offer clients. That in itself is quite alarming.
Google has maintained that they will not do anything to the files you upload to their cloud. That seems very unlikely though, when looking at the terms above. One does feel that Google need to re-draft these terms to get a good response from users if they wish to expand Google Drive and actually make money from it, seeing they charge $2.49 per month for 25 GB, whereas you receive 5 GB of storage for free. That is more than enough for the average user.
One of the first and most successful companies to have started the trend of cloud storage was of course Dropbox, of which I am a user. After the public backlash over Google‘s Terms of Service, I noticed Dropbox updated its terms to clearly show the limitations of their control over your data:
This is much more appropriate for cloud storage, as people will choose to save very sensitive material in the sky. Whether or not this causes more users to flock to their service remains to be seen.
For years it has been said that the future may very well be in the clouds, but for now I don‘t think users will fully appreciate and utilize the benefits that these services offer. Not until cloud storage offers the same security and protection as a personal hard drive will it thoroughly take off.