Posted in Menacing Monopoly, War on Privacy

“GDrive” finally materializes as Google Drive

We’ve long suspected that at some point, Google would launch an online storage offering in competition with Dropbox,, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, iCloud, and Amazon Cloud Services. And now they have.

Google is taking the wraps off a long-anticipated product that it views as one of its most important launches of the year, as the Internet giant continues its push toward a future in which users’ photos, spreadsheets and other data primarily live on the Internet “cloud” instead of a PC or some other device.

The launch of “Google Drive” Tuesday has been a poorly kept secret in Silicon Valley, with the name and a rough description of the online storage product widely circulated in recent weeks as Google has worked out the final bugs. Drive will open up to millions of users around the world starting Tuesday, allowing them to sync their files between PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Google’s main intention with its new Drive offering, of course, is to take mining of personal information to a whole new level. With Drive, Google is going beyond its existing Gmail, Docs, YouTube, and Picasa offerings, and inviting users to upload pretty much everything they might normally keep on their desktops and laptops to its datacenters. The problematic user agreement Google created for Drive naturally does not provide adequate protections for the privacy and security of the people who use it:

While private files winding up on Google Drive may not be as privacy-protected as the ones on your hard disk, fact is that Google is not granting itself free rein to use personal data. But you’d be hard-pressed to know that given a “toxic brew” of conflicting claims found in the company’s omnibus privacy policy, according to a legal expert who has closely reviewed Google’s policies.

“The language is not drafted nearly as tightly as we would expect from a company of Google’s size and stature,” says Eric Goldman of the High Tech Law Institute. He describes the covenants as poorly written and likely to confuse users by virtue of Google mashing licensing and privacy statements together.

Several companies and media organizations have already warned their employees that Google Drive’s terms of service are problematic, and the offering should not be used.

We agree. Stay far, far away from Google Drive.

MORE FROM ARS TECHNICAGoogle Drive files can end up in ads, even though you still own them