Tag: privacy policies

Google’s Policies: 6 essential must-knows

Some say the biggest lie told online is ‘I agree.’  So what exactly are we lying about? Services in Action has been reviewing the privacy policies and terms of use of companies whose software services are used every day. The purpose of this exercise, besides diving deep into some fascinating material, is to know exactly what commitments are in place when we invest our information in a third party.
 
We’re scouring these documents so you don’t have to. Part two of this series focuses on Google.
Google’s services are numerous including Gmail, YouTube, search, chrome, analytics, and android products. Many of these services are relied on as key features of a business model.  Certainly this is the case for Services in Action. So what exactly are we entitled to in this vital relationship?
 
Google is clear about their policies and terms of service, the only trouble is there are many links driving the reader away from the main document which can cause the reader to question if their ‘choose your own adventure’ version of their policy is the most fulsome. Nonetheless, the information is easy to access and read, provided you have the time (and inclination). Assuming you don’t, here it is –six essential points:
 

  1. Google will aggregate all your data into one place to create a customized experience.
    • Any information you provide Google (either directly when you set up an account, or indirectly like the language you use to search, services you have install or uninstalled, email content, and other information regarding your technology and location) is collected and stored. This information is used to customize your experience –including advertising, search results, sharing, and connections. For example, if you search for a product, you’ll see ads for that or other similar products.
    • Information not provided by you, the user, may be accessed with cookies or other similar technologies. For example, information about the YouTube videos you watch are is collected and stored along with the other data included in you Google account.
    • All information collected about you is stored in your account and is treated as private. You can access, change, or delete the information in your account unless Google has to keep it due to business or legal reasons, or if it would require a disproportionate effort.
    • Your name is used across all Google platforms, your name may replace previous names associated with your account. If someone else uses your email or other information that identifies you, they may see your public account information, like name and picture.
  2. When you interact with Google services information may be gathered regarding that interaction and shared with partners via Google Analytics or advertising services.
  3. Information may be stored locally on your device or anywhere in the world.
  4. Your information may be shared with a third party for external processing or to comply with legal requests. It is also shared with a domain administrator if, for example you’re a Google Apps users.
  5. The information you store, upload, submit, send, or receive through Google remains your intellectual property, but may be used by Google to “use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content.
  6. Any changes to Google’s policy will be posted. Google will notify users regarding more significant changes to the policy or if Google is involved in any mergers, acquisitions, or asset sales.

 
If you’re interested in managing the information stored in your account or to learn more about the collection and storage of information and how that affects the user you can visit Google’s Safety Centre: http://www.google.ca/safetycenter/

Dropbox’s Policies: 8 essential must-knows

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.