For all of the glitz and glamour swirling around its Chrome Web browser, Google is working out to put out fires among corporate users concerned that the EULA enables Google to own source code and other proprietary information.
One day after Google’s beta launch of the Web browser Sept. 2, users complained that Section 11 of the end-user license agreement gave Google too much control over information after it was entered into the browser.
An anonymous Google Watch reader told me Sept. 2 that his company is banned from using Chrome.
He also noted that a security officer of another organization told him Chrome was put on that company’s banned software list, calling for users to remove it from their system. The reason? He explained:
“Google has included some extremely harsh terminology in their user license that gives them ownership of content you view through the viewer. In our environment that could include source code, proprietary information stored in PDFs viewed online and other property. Until we can research the impact, this browser will remain on the do not install list.“
Google swiftly amended the section, but here is the original iteration of the section that troubled people:
“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.“
A Google spokesperson told me Google has since updated the language in Section 11, which was culled from Google’s broad Universal Terms of Service, used for many of Google’s products.
Section 11.1 now reads: “You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”
Google Omnibox Also Raises Concerns
This seemed to mollify my anonymous poster, who later added this comment: “So maybe they aren’t that evil after all.”
Snarky comments aside, Google has other issues it must contend with, including questions of privacy. Google stores 2 percent of the information users type into the Omnibox, a bar that combines a browser’s address bar and search box.
It should be noted that this applies only to Google Chrome users who have Google set as their default search engine on the browser and have the suggest feature turned on.
A Google spokesperson explained to me that “many of those entries are for search queries, which we already store basic log information for as we do for a search made from any browser when the user hits enter. “
Also, a user can either turn off the suggest feature or use the Incognito mode and entries into the Omnibox will not be stored in Google’s logs, unless the user hits enter and has entered a search query in the Omnibox.
In my opinion, 2 percent isn’t so bad. Google is already tucking away info on our search queries, so why should the Omnibox be any different?
And if you’re totally paranoid about this, turn off auto-suggest; you need to make the decision about what’s more important. Is it the auto-suggest feature, or the comfort of knowing that Google can’t access the minute quantity of search query data from you through Chrome that it already gets from your general search queries?
ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick has a great post on Google’s privacy line-straddling history here.