Blown To Bits

A Privacy Surprise in Google’s New Browser

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Google has released a new web browser, called Chrome. I haven’t tried it yet (at the moment only the Windows version has been released). David Pogue has a rundown in the New York Times. It sounds great.

In the spirit of watching what your bits are doing, I thought I’d note one interesting clause in the Chrome Terms of Service (the legal prose to which you have to agree before you can download the software):

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.

Perhaps there are similar clauses in the agreement you have to click before you can use Internet Explorer; I don’t know. But my non-lawyerly reading of that says: If you use our browser to upload to Picasa the cute picture you took¬†of your roommate¬†at the party¬†with a jug in each hand, we can use that photo in our national advertising campaign. Not privacy-friendly, and I’m surprised that Google thinks it’s necessary to assert such a sweeping right to use your text and images for commercial purposes without asking your permission at the time.

Thanks to Ina Fried of CNET for pointing this out.

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