Google responds to Drive privacy concerns


Google has hit back at claims its cloud-based storage service, Drive, could put corporate users in breach of data protection laws.

The search giant announced the launch of Google Drive last week, claiming the service would make it easier for business users to share files and collaborate on work projects.

Users can read the privacy policy but, even if they're a legal expert, it's doubtful they'll be able to understand it.

Google Drive provides end users with access to 5GB of free online storage, as well as the option to purchase a further 20GB for $4 a month.

However, rival search firm Simplexo has since taken issue with the service, claiming Google's privacy policy could result in firms falling foul of the law.

In particular, Simplexo has taken umbrage to the part that states: "When you upload or submit content to [Google] services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, communicate, publish, publicly perform and distribute such content."

Simplexo's chief technology officer, Simon Bain, said the policy is similar to ones used by Google competitors Dropbox, Microsoft and Apple.

"If you pass files across a service that has terms similar to this from Google, they you may well be breaking national or state laws covering data privacy and protection," he claimed.

"At the very least, you are opening up your company to information theft and copying of corporate data. Worst still, you are potentially passing your customers' data and information to an insecure third party."

Meanwhile, Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the policy's wording means end users may not know what they have signed up for.

"Users can read the privacy policy but, even if they're a legal expert, it's doubtful they'll be able to understand it. It's impossible to tell, for example, if documents will be scanned and the words fed into Google's targeted advertising systems," Pickles told IT Pro.

In a statement to IT Pro, Google dismissed these claims, and insisted it takes the security of its corporate users' data very seriously.

"Enterprise customers using Google Apps for Government, Business or Education have individual contracts that define how [Google] handles and stores their data," said the statement.

"As always, Google will maintain [its] enterprise customers' data in compliance with the confidentiality and security obligations provided to their domain. "

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.