Privacy policies and terms of use are not titillating. They usually conjure up images of long documents with small text, filled with words like ‘herein’ or ‘whereas’. But they’re important. My work, and probably yours too, is quickly moving from a desk to various mobile devices, and the more we work outside of a structured office space, the more we rely on software services to send, store, and share work documents. Google and Dropbox offer great, free, or inexpensive solutions, which are easily accessible from multiple devices. But what exactly are they responsible for? Say Dropbox gets sold or goes out of business tomorrow, what happens to all of your work? Knowing the policies of software services you rely on is essential for protecting your work. Although Dropbox does a pretty good job at clearly articulating their privacy policy and terms of conditions, here are 8 essential must-knows:

  1. Dropbox collects data from the user’s profile. This is done to enhance the user’s experience. Data is collected from places like the device you use to access Dropbox, your browser, and the webpage you visited prior to going to Dropbox.
  2. They may share information about their users with a third party, but will not sell it. The information collected is shared with third parties for Dropbox’s business needs to perform tasks on their behalf or comply with the law. Should Dropbox receive a government request for user’s data, Dropbox will “be transparent, fight blanket requests, protect all users, and provide trusted services.” This is really only concerning if you work in an environment that can offer privileged information.
  3. Dropbox can store the information you store in your account anywhere in the world or use your local device.
  4. If there are changes to Dropbox’s policy, service, or business structure they will notify users via email. These changes include a reorganization, merger, acquisition, or sale of the company, or anything else Dropbox deems important.
  5. You are responsible for what you store in your account and what you share with others within Dropbox.
  6. Information stored by you in your account is your intellectual property. It does not become Dropbox’s property.
  7. Dropbox for Business –The administrator of this account is governed by the policies of their employer. So as the end user, you have as much privacy as your company grants. A couple noteworthy points:You may lose access to your Dropbox account if you lose access to the email address associated with it.
    If you merge a personal Dropbox account with a Dropbox for Business account, the account becomes part of the business’ domain. It is possible for you to lose access to it.
  8. If things don’t go well and you become displeased with Dropbox’s service they ask users to tell them. In the event things get litigious, they do not accept class action lawsuits.