Skip to main content

Google Isn't Claiming Ownership of Your Google Drive Files

Attempting to quell concerns that it intends to assert ownership over the private data stored on Google Drive, Google is clarifying that language in the service's terms and conditions suggesting that policy is simply standard legal language designed to ensure their ability to deliver requested services to users. "Our terms of service enable us to give you the services you want," the company said in a statement last week, "so if you decide to share a document with someone, or open it on a different device, you can."

At issue is a passage in the terms of service, highlighted by concerned users soon after the service launched on April 24, which says using Google Drive grants the company "a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content." This language seems to state fairly clearly that storing your data with Google grants them permission to do whatever they want with it. This led even the New York Times to issue a warning to staffers not to use Google Drive until the terms of service were more clearly understood. 

As it turns out, the terms of service actually contains language that appears to nullify that risk. "Some of our services allow you to submit content," Google says in its disclosure. "You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours."

That's excellent news for aspiring screenwriters storing their adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. However, the bigger question is what Google may do with the information you store publicly. In essence, if you make it public, there's a chance Google might use it somehow, to promote their services, demonstrate them, or perhaps use in some other nefarious(ish) way. PC Magazine put it best when they said, regarding the terms of service, that 'Lazy people should worry.' Google probably won't be using your Stargate fan fiction any time soon, but it's probably best that you keep everything you store on Google Drive private.