The cloud world is buzzing as Google announced that effective March 1, 2012, it would consolidate more than 60 privacy policies for different services into a single, simplified policy covering all Google services. Not surprisingly, we are already fielding calls from our Google Apps for Business / Education / Government customers with questions about the impact of the change.
Rest easy. Here are the answers.
Not Much is Changing
Public and Free Services versus Business / Education / Government Services
“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.”
Google Apps for Business, for Education, and for Government all have these additional terms and settings.
Confidentiality in Google Apps for Business / Education / Government
The Terms of Service for Google Apps for Business, for Education, and for Government each define Confidential Information as follows:
“Confidential Information means information disclosed by a party to the other party under this Agreement that is marked as confidential or would normally be considered confidential under the circumstances. Customer Data is Customer’s Confidential Information.
Very simply, the agreement defines all user/customer content in these services as confidential.
The Terms of Service prevent Google from accessing or disclosing customer information without permission and guarantee a standard of care related the security, availability, and privacy of customer information.
There are exceptions when Google may disclose or publicly display Google Apps for Business / Education / Government customers.
- A User Marks Content as Public: If a user marks content as “public” or as “publish on the web”, the user is giving permission to Google and instructing Google to index the content in Google search engine and to make the content available to everyone publicly. Google Apps administrators can limit user permissions to prevent them from marking content as public.
- Required Disclosure: Per the Terms of Service, Google may “… disclose the other party’s Confidential Information when required by law but only after it, if legally permissible: (a) uses commercially reasonable efforts to notify the other party; and (b) gives the other party the chance to challenge the disclosure.”
While Google’s consolidation of privacy policies makes for great, sensational headlines, the reality is that their is no material change in how Google addresses information privacy. For Google Apps for Business, for Education, and for Government customers, there is no change what so ever.