After the launch of the Google Drive service yesterday users were quick to compare its features, advantages and disadvantages compared to other services available on the market right now. There’s the Daily Telegraph roundup today and Microsoft have their own comparison in which their own SkyDrive wins on features (surprise!).
The main bone of contention from users reading through and comparing the terms and conditions of the various services concerns privacy and use of personal data. A lot of users don’t like the extent to which Google ‘owns’ your files once they have been uploaded to their cloud.
Here is a brief extract of the major cloud storage competitors T&Cs concerning privacy;
Google Drive T&Cs
“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.”
Microsoft Skydrive T&Cs
“Except for material that we license to you, we don't claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content. We also don't control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the service.
You control who may access your content. If you share content in public areas of the service or in shared areas available to others you've chosen, then you agree that anyone you've shared content with may use that content. When you give others access to your content on the service, you grant them free, nonexclusive permission to use, reproduce, distribute, display, transmit, and communicate to the public the content solely in connection with the service and other products and services made available by Microsoft. If you don't want others to have those rights, don't use the service to share your content.”
“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.
Also for your reference here are Apple iCloud T&Cs which don’t have any details about Apple using your uploaded content, they mainly ramble on about how you should not share copyrighted material on your storage space. As in this statement: “Apple reserves the right at all times to determine whether Content is appropriate and in compliance with this Agreement, and may pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove Content at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, if such Content is found to be in violation of this Agreement or is otherwise objectionable.”
Many users won’t be very worried about Google’s rights to poke around their stuff as they have the same terms in their other popular online services like Gmail and Google Docs. For most users the privacy issue will be a non-issue. However if you are a content creator or any kind of inventor or entrepreneur it might be worth using a more private and secure service or online backup methodology.
Users after a higher degree of privacy on their cloud storage can use encryption on their machines prior to uploading or use the encryption built into the cloud storage service. Already there is an application for Mac that automatically encrypts stuff and then sends it to Google Drive for you, safe from prying eyes. If you have Windows 7 you could try this VHD and BitLocker method to store private data in the cloud.