Our coverage of the new Google browser Chrome over the past few days has touched on issues like browser performance and business implications for Firefox – but one thing we hadn’t noticed until this evening was a curious section of the Chrome Terms of Service.
The terms include a section giving 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.” That seems pretty extreme for a browser, doesn’t it?
Update: Since this controversy has erupted, Google has removed the offending section of the Terms of Service. It seems that the default Google service TOS includes these kinds of claims, even though they may not be as appropriate in some circumstances as in others. We’re not sure when such claims would be justified but we’re glad they’ve been removed from Chrome. Here’s the original version of the End User Licensing Agreement.
Surely This Will be Changed
We’re hoping that this section of the TOS will be changed quickly. Such terms might make sense for user uploaded video sites, for example, but language like this always raises concerns. In the context of an entire browser it seems absolutely absurd. Passwords, financial information, you name it – these kinds of things Google can’t be given any right to, can they? Though it’s framed in terms of “promoting Google services,” we don’t think that condition is a clear enough limit on the rights being claimed.
We’ve long voiced concerns about Google and privacy. We’ll be watching to see when this changes, though, and we assume it will promptly.
UPDATE: The wording on Chrome’s TOS is very similar to the TOS of Google Docs, which caused a similar outcry in Aug 07. At the time a Google Docs rep replied in our comments: “As we state in our terms of service, we don’t claim ownership or control over your content in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, whether you’re using it as an individual or through Google Apps. Read in its entirety, the sentence from our terms of service excerpted in the blog ensures that, for documents you expressly choose to share with others, we have the proper license to display those documents to the selected users and format documents properly for different displays. To be clear, Google will not use your documents beyond the scope that you and you alone control. Your fantasy football spreadsheets are not going to end up shared with the world unless you want them to be.”
Below is the full section of the Chrome Terms of Service in question. Thanks to the anonymous commenter who pointed this out to us – we love you commenters!
11. Content license from you
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.
11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.
11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.
11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.