Why I don’t like Google’s Terms of Service

When Google prepared to release their Chrome browser, it seems they just copied their Terms of Service for their services like Google Docs, and pasted that into Chrome’s Terms of Services.

Well, people got upset about the fine print. So, Google turned around and edited it’s Terms of Service to take out the offending parts.

However, the new Terms of Service still states under section 19.1, that the Universal Terms which you are agreeing to, are found at the old location. Now, I suspect that this is just an oversight by Google, and that they will fix that link to a Chrome-specific Terms of Service in the near future.

But this leads me to a more important issue, why would anyone agree to these terms for any aspect of Google’s services?

Look at the fine print.

I was going to quote all of section 11. Content license from you, but decided against it. Here is a relevant portion:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

Now, the next sentence does limit that with:

This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services

Not bad, helps to limit it, but then we have this:

You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

OK, well I guess that would depend on how you want to define “provision of those services.”

Google does have section 13, which covers terminating your legal agreement, but there are two issues,

  1. you have to send written notice to Google at their mailing address
  2. section 11 says “irrevocable,” so it can legally mean that you can terminate the rest of the agreement, but the license to Google to use your work is still in effect

And finish it off with the fact that if the terms change, which they are only required to make “available to you from within, or through, the affected Services,” and you use the services after that change, you are agreeing to the new terms. The important part there, is that if the terms change, Google is only required to provide a link, or other form of access, to you from the service, and they are not bound, nor required, to inform you that any changes have been made.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I won’t be using Google’s stuff anytime soon.


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