SPY GAMES: Google Drive terms of service ‘let US authorities raid your cloud’

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Competition, Google, What's New

Taken from SPY GAMES:

THE terms of service of Google’s new cloud service “Drive” could allow US law enforcement agencies to access your data, without your knowledge and without the need for a warrant.

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Or so says the inventor of one of the first cloud computing services, TrendMicro cloud evangelist, David Asprey.

Mr Asprey told news.com.au that the terms of use of Google Drive “destroys any expectation of privacy because you license your data to a third party”.

“You give Google full right to do whatever they want to do with your data and of course one of those things is to give your information to law enforcement without a subpoena,” Mr Asprey said.

By signing up to Google Drive, users give the tech giant a global license to “use, host, store, reproduce, modify or create derivative works and to publish, publicly perform and distribute that content.”

Mr Asprey said the new terms of service extended the reach and power of the Patriot Act – which was passed shortly after September 11, 2001, giving the US Government permission to look at people’s documents without their knowledge or permission.

The new terms gives the US Government and law enforcement more opportunity to encroach on the rights of citizens worldwide, Mr Asprey said.

“Having all your data in the cloud be private, and requiring a warrant in order for it to be viewed by law enforcement will just go away over the next few years if Google allows this to stand,” Mr Asprey said.

But what does this mean for Australia?

Secretary of Electronic Frontiers Australia, Kim Heitman, told news.com.au that Australian law was “all but irrelevant” to Google Drive because the terms of service said that anyone storing data on Google Drive was subject to the law of California.

“You can try as a consumer to say that Australian consumer law in some way applies but it’s a hard road to hoe,” Mr Heitman said.

Google says they comply with US laws and legal processes “just like any law-abiding company”.

“We have a track record of advocating on behalf of user privacy in the face of law enforcement requests (including but not limited to US Dept of Justice subpoenas),” Google said in a statement to news.com.au.

“We look at each request to be sure they adhere to both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. We do our best to notify the subject named in any such requests in order to give them the opportunity to object.”

Mr Heitman said that Google’s privacy policy, which was updated last month, no longer said that it would only hand over court documents without a court order or a warrant.

“They basically said they’ll comply as these things fit,” he said.

The lawyer and certified technologist also said that Google was the only service that explicitly stated that it would scan your data in order to better market advertisements for you.

“Dropbox doesn’t do that. Microsoft SkyDrive doesn’t do that,” Mr Heitman said.

“So you’ve got this situation as ever with Google that you are the product. Whatever you have on your Google drive can be used for any of its purposes.”

“They keep changing their purpose, so as time goes on you may find yourself in the circumstance that the use of your data becomes more intrusive than just targeted ads on your search page or on YouTube.”

Google said that it made clear “what belongs to you and stays yours”.

“You own your files and control their sharing, plain and simple,” the tech giant said. “Our Terms of Service enable us to give you the services you want – so if you decide to share a document with someone, or open it on a different device, you can.”

Mr Heitman and Mr Asprey said that if people were concerned about their privacy, they should encrypt their data before uploading it to the cloud.

Encryption basically allows users to “encode” their data, making it unreadable to anyone accept the user who possesses a “key”, which is an algorithm that unlocks the data in order for it to be viewed.

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