Do the new Google Terms of Service guarantee email or document privacy?

Folks:

Back in November, I published http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2011/11/03/where-does-google-actually-say-that-they-wont-read-gmail-messages-or-google-docs/ wondering if Google ever promises not to go curiously through one’s Google Docs (or elaborates beyond a single FAQ on the question of whether Google employees are allowed to read Gmail messages). Lately I’ve been getting a variety of notifications from Google about the new improved privacy policies but I still can’t find anything on the subject of “Can Google read my word processing docs and spreadsheets?”

Thanks in advance if you have figured this out…

4 Comments

  1. Fazal Majid

    January 31, 2012 @ 2:13 am

    1

    Privacy policies are not worth the (virtual) paper they are printed on. There are legal precedents that allow companies to violate their own privacy policies with complete impunity:
    http://news.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/jetblue_suit.html

    Of course, Google’s new privacy policy is only improved from Google’s point of view, as they are essentially claiming the right to do however they please with your data.

    I never trusted Google and always set my browsers up to block Google cookies, but for the last few years I ditched them as a search engine as well and use DuckDuckGo.

  2. Lawrence

    January 31, 2012 @ 3:11 am

    2

    I think the only thing that’s kind of like that is “We will ask for your consent before using information for a purpose other than those that are set out in this Privacy Policy.” You’d have to convince yourself that nothing else in the text actually allows it directly, though, or that line won’t help you.

    I am impressed at how weasel-worded the new policy is. It doesn’t actually seem to say that they commit to much of anything at all.

  3. cristian

    January 31, 2012 @ 9:13 am

    3

    I found some interesting info that might help you. Its in Romanian, but you can use Google Translate (lol)

    do a quick search for the word ‘mail’ on that page. There it is defined what “private information” is. The terms in Romanian (which are quite ambiguous for me) refers to access to your email. And the “private information” can be used to enrich and better Google Services.

    Some clarification on this topic would be nice.

    here is the link where I found the FAQ
    http://www.google.ro/intl/ro/policies/privacy/faq/

    cheers,
    cristian

  4. David Wihl

    January 31, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    4

    UCB recently ran a bake-off between Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. Google won in functionality, but lost in terms of privacy, security, HIPAA and contracts.

    As the Washington Post says, the most troubling aspect of the unified policy will be Android users. A mobile device can constantly broadcast your location, calls, even potentially for the truly paranoid, a microphone and camera.

    Am I old fashioned or does this voracious desire to record everything about me seem more rude than anything Microsoft has ever done?

    There is no opt-out of the new policy. I’ve switched browser search engines to Bing and plan to further loosen my dependence upon Google.

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