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Privacy Online — Oxymoron?

Your Google Drive Files Can End Up in Ads

When Ars spoke to the Electronic Frontier Foundation about Google Drive’s terms of service, the EFF found little about them that was more suspicious than in any other similar cloud service. But Rebecca Jeschke, EFF’s media relations director and digital rights analyst, paused over one phrase: “The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.” Promoting?

…The good news here is that Google isn’t going to be strewing your personal files all over the Internet as banner ads, as the terms of service alone might suggest, provided the files have some privacy settings, as they do by default — viewable only to friends, for instance. But a public file on any of Google’s services could, in theory, end up in promotional materials. It makes some sense that public content could be used by others, but it’s easy to forget how public “Public” on an Internet service is. It gives us flashbacks to the family photo posted on a blog that wound up in a Czech ad.

Jeschke went on to point out that users should be more concerned with who Google might be forced to give their files to, than what Google itself might do with their files. “In light of Megaupload, it’s possible that users are worried about the wrong thing,” she said. Files stored in the cloud can still be easily lost or subpoenaed without the users’ knowledge, Jeschke noted, an issue that’s often overlooked.

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