QueTwo's Blog

thouoghts on telecommunications, programming, education and technology

You won’t see me in Chrome…


Google Chrome LogoIt’s amazing how sheepish that our industry has gotten lately. .  One thing that my current job has taught me, is to read the fine print.  A lot of applications make use of such cookie cutter Terms of Service that they are basically useless or irreverent.  The ones you want to watch out for are where they sneak in a few terms that make lawyers cringe, and make people like you and me go “Huh?”.

Google released their new web browser called Chrome yesterday.  Like anything the Goog publishes (similar to Apple, I guess), the world is in awe.  It doesn’t matter if the product is good (Google Maps), or bad (Google Groups), or just plain ugly (Google Docs), everybody rants and raves about their products. 

I decided to check out what the hub-bub is about.  I’m not a big fan of FireFox, IE is OK, and Safari just has some quirks that bother me (why, oh why, can’t I change the default search to Yahoo?).  The promise of a faster browsing experience is pretty neat too. 

I went to download Chrome, and there wasn’t really any mention of an EULA before you download the app.  I went and downloaded it, and launched the installer.  Low and behold, it seems the Chrome team basically copied and pasted their TOS from Google Apps, and included some of the worst points from their agreements:

8.3 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. These tools include the SafeSearch preference settings (see http://www.google.com/help/customize.html#safe). In addition, there are commercially available services and software to limit access to material that you may find objectionable.

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and 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. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

So, essentially, with any ‘Conent’ I submit (which was very loosely defined as ‘data input into the application’), I submit a perpetual, irrevocable and non-exclusive license to do anything they want with my data.  My bank account and love letters to my girlfriend would now be public information. 

In doing my research for this post, I found one other person who noticed the same thing : Velvet Unraveled

So, without using this new browser, like many other Google Apps and Services, I will have to throw this one aside.  I refuse to use, or avoid as much as possible, any Google service that has these TOS in place.  Heh, do no Evil.  I like that.

9 responses to “You won’t see me in Chrome…

  1. Rick Mason September 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm


    Despite all the press I didn’t find Chrome to be any faster than IE7 or FF, unless the site is javascript heavy and then it was much faster. Certaintly not enough difference to hand over my data to Google.

  2. Tom Ortega September 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Have you tried Flock yet? It’s pretty neat, based on Firefox.

    I guess I’m one of the few that trust that the Goog isn’t going to do evil with my info. I understand how they want to be able to make commercials or screenshots without worrying about who’s it is (ownership) and if it’s changed (in perpetuity).

    I don’t think that if you email a copy of your best seller novel that Google is claiming they own it and can publish their own versions without giving you a dime. I could be wrong, but the benefits of the Google services far outweigh any concerns.

    Plus, I’m the kinda guy who used to make mix tapes for friends. Technically, that was copy, reproducing, sharing and creating in perpetuity a copy of someone else’s work. I didn’t feel bad, because I’m sure it helped drive legitimate sales.

    I’m guessing, in my head, I’m applying the same logic to the Goog. It may come back to bite me, but like I said, I like the services too much to stop.

  3. charlie arehart September 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Hey Nick, it’s good to be cautious, and your posting this is appreciated, but I guess I wonder whether the downloadable browser really is the same as the “services” that the EULA is talking about. I mean, I don’t for a minute mind that the things posted in those services becomes their property. It’s the price we pay for the free service they offer (some may beg to differ, but it’s not the real point in this entry or my comment).

    But since this is a downloadable tool, it just doesn’t seem to fit the definition of service, and certainly no one would want to acquiesce to having ALL content sent from their browser to be deemed Google’s.

    Of course, I respect that you and perhaps most will regard the vagueness as reason enough to stay away. I just wonder if this wasn’t simply a slip in their part in pulling in that language from the Apps EULA (especially since it’s in beta, so they may have felt compelled to use something over nothing).

    Indeed, I would imagine that more and more will notice, blog about, or otherwise raise the issue either to Google or in public. If anyone else ever learns of such and can offer a link, it will help all readers here. (Until then, as Nick notes, you may want to think twice about the current EULA.)

  4. charlie arehart September 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    BTW, Nick, it’s not clear but if we comment here (since we have to provide our email address), will we get an email as others respond? Or must we choose to subscribe to the comment RSS feed (which would be a shame).

    If you have any control over the words in the comment area, it may be helpful to clarify this point. If we don’t get emailed, some may mistakenly comment and not return or signup for the RSS, presuming they’ll get notified, and perhaps never notice that they don’t. Hope that’s helpful.

  5. Mike September 3, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Why would pass your ban account outside of SSL? You deserve to have it made public if you are silly enough to do that.

    No one cares about love letters to your girlfriend and no one is promised privacy on the www no matter what browser they are using, unless they are passing their data through SSL.

    So please make some valid points before bashing the browser.

  6. quetwo September 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    @Mike: According to the EULA, it doesn’t matter if what I do is within SSL or not, they still have the rights to republish, or aggregate it. That is my, and my organization’s biggest fear. We deal a lot with academic Intellectual Property, competing directly with Google (yes, they are considered competitors of us in the education world). If I deal with a piece of IP that is considered sensitive, inside my intranet, over SSL, I would normally say I’m safe, but according to the EULA, I’m still at risk, and NOT protected should it become aggregated by the Goog.

    @Charlie: Google’s TOS was changed to define Services as websites, web services and software applications developed or run by Google. Chrome legally falls under this distinction.

    @Tom: It’s not that I’m expecting them to do evil with my data, but rather that they legally CAN do evil with no recourse. Everything you do (as a private citizen) is considered private until you expressly make it public. If I write you a private email, there is an expectation of privacy unless I CC . The same goes for websites as well — there is a reasonable expectation of privacy unless it is granted to the public, which this EULA essentially does. It just has lots of legal ramifications as to what happens with your data. Most people don’t care what happens with their data, but in my position, where I am responsible for defending many potential patents, academic intellectual properties, etc., I can’t be in a position where my data is exposed without legal recourse.

  7. Brian Meloche September 3, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    @quetwo (Nick): I think it’s a little premature to throw Google under the bus. I figured it was an error, and this post suggests that it is: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080903-google-on-chrome-eula-controversy-our-bad-well-change-it.html

    @Rick: That hasn’t been my experience. I’ve found it to be SIGNIFICANTLY faster on every site I’ve been to, especially on my 6-year old Optiplex at home. It’s the same on my 9-month old Dell Precision M6300 at work, although not quite as noticeable. GMail flies on it.

  8. quetwo September 3, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    @Brian: Unfortunatly, it is the world we live in. Although many of the senerios that I have to research and defend are extermely unlikely, we have to research them for a reason. As a state-funded university, if one of our Intellictual Properties gets lost in the shuffle, and we loose our rights to it, we can potentially loose lots of related research, publications, or potential revinue that it would have generated. It stinks, but any other place that deals at all with research or devlopment has the same issues to deal with.

    And as far as Google updating their EULA, unless they inform you that the EULA has changed in writing, or that you remove the old software and reinstall (therefore breaking the old contract), the old terms still will stand in court in both Michigan and Ohio.

    I hope it gets corrected in Beta 2. I would like to see it. Until then, I’m going to play with my custom air browser (built on the same webkit engine they are using) 🙂

  9. Tom Ortega September 4, 2008 at 10:01 am

    @Nick I hear ya. I didn’t think about it from your employers perspective. Also, forgot that you and the Goog are competitors, so that is a bit uneasy in and of itself.

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