News alert! According to ZDNet apparently Google has been less than perfect and it has drawn the ire of an online privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). At the heart of this petition is the request to have the Federal Trade Commission open an investigation into Google’s cloud computing services which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar etc etc.
Last month’s incident where some documents of Google Docs clients were made public is the focal point of this request. The most recent cited event prior to this in the request is January 2007. No typo there. 2007.
Some of the concern is directed at the language in the terms of service that Google claims that one can “rest assured that your documents, spreadsheets and presentations will remain private unless you publish them to the Web or invite collaborators and/or viewers.”
This is really about cloud computing services which are gaining in popularity. Since more consumers and businesses are turning to this type of service I guess they need to be defenders of the users and the potential privacy breaches that can occur. This last Google ’event’ affected one half of one percent of Google Docs users. The company explained the event as occurring when collaborators shared multiple documents and were inadvertently given permission to see docs other than those shared.
OK. I am not a Google apologist by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I would like to see some more competition in the marketplace. The fact of the matter is though that considering the ridiculous amount of data they handle they do a pretty good job. This petition couldn’t dredge up another issue in between now and January of 2007. Not exactly an epidemic of privacy violations in my opinion.
How many of us actually believe that there is true, infallible security on the Internet anyway? Of course, it is something to aspire to but even hosting companies that have gotten better over the years will only go to 99.999 or 99.9999 % uptime guarantees because stuff happens on the Internet. If you put your information with Google, which I do on many occasions, you want security and to some degree expect it but is it reasonable to expect perfection? If someone wants your stuff there is a decent chance they’ll get it one way or another. It’s a fact of the Internet space.
So my thought is why is there a need to take up a government agency’s time with something that is not even close to a regular occurrence? Why couldn’t the folks at EPIC just do some press releases around this and look to address it with Google directly? I don’t know the answer but I have to believe that there are more egregious issues for the FTC to tackle. Your take?