Google Drive? Drive on


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Am sure at least some of you have been eyeing Google Drive, so thought I would remind you of the recent changes Google made in their TOS and show you a recent post I came across. This is important, so read on.

First is the Google TOS, go on read it. It is not as bad as the legal documents enterprises usually cook up in their cauldrons, this is relatively mild. If legalese is not your thing, then allow me to highlight the terms that gets me concerned.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) 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. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.

Ah…do you see the dark clouds yet? Wondering what lurks right behind it? Wait no more, read the next quote.

This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

Now to the second item, the blog post I mentioned at the start. A computer scientist ends up getting a $1000 bill from Amazon WebServices. Reason? There were numerous GET requests to large number of objects in his S3 bucket. Large enough requests to be charged $1000 for a month. Guess what caused it, He was storing a bunch of these URLs on his Google Spreadsheet, which got crawled by Google. Read the whole post, useful to understand how Amazon S3 did not raise an alarm at the unusual number of requests, why this was not Google crawler but a service called FeedFetcher from Google and why Google’s privacy policy prevented this “crawl” from being cached.

To summarize, a document you created using Google Docs/Spreadsheet had a URL, which was not public, got crawled repeatedly. Am not sure about you but I typically like my documents unindexed unless I explicitly make them public and expect them to be indexed. Integrated experience is good until I am forced to integrate within an ecosystem with unintended consequences. Lesson here is this, provide integrated experiences but ensure you align to customer expectations of service boundaries, or inform the customer upfront about consequences so they can take an informed decision. Its hard to retain this balance and completeness, but should be worth pursuing.

I am sticking with DropBox and SkyDrive, until even they have this bright idea of offering integrated experiences.

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