I’m not the first and won’t be the last to raise alarms about Google’s latest foray, this time into the browser market with its release of Chrome. I’ve already seen a few posts and messages flying around about the terms and conditions, notably difficulty in ascertaining the scope of the agreement (“Universal Terms” and “Additional Terms”) and who you’re agreeing it with (“Subsidiaries and Affiliates”) and censorship (“Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content from any Service. For some of the Services, Google may provide tools to filter out explicit sexual content”).
What I think raises the biggest problem (if the usual problems with privacy aren’t big enough) is Google’s right under the agreement to a “non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” Furthermore, you grant “a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.”
Sounds suspiciously similar to Google’s project to scan books from lilbrary’s around the world with or without author or publisher permissions. Like that project, where publishers could opt out of teh programme is they could identify specific titles and request their removal, Chrome allows users to choose “incognito mode for private browsing”. The video clip about incognito mode says that when using this mode “nothing will be saved in Google Chrome after you close the window.” Quite what that means is anyone’s guess – does not saving something in Google Chrome mean Google doesn’t collect it either? Or is Google one of the websites that can still collect personal information, as mentioned at the start of the clip.
Regardless of what it means, Google is again putting the onus on content creators and owners to opt out of a content grab, and that ain’t good manners.