Why you should read that long-winded ‘terms of service’
By Ian GRAYSON
They appear on the screen every time you sign up for an internet-based service, but can you honestly say you’ve ever read one?
Written by highly paid legal eagles, they spell out in detail exactly what you are agreeing to when you click the ‘I accept’ icon and complete your sign-up procedure.
Now these things are not new, but with interest growing in online cloud-based services for business users, it could be time to take a closer look.
It’s one thing to use a free web-based email account to stay in touch with friends and family, but when you start storing critical business information within a cloud-based service, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
For example Google Docs, which allows users to create and store documents, spreadsheets and other items in the cloud, is being adopted by growing numbers of businesses keen to enjoy the flexibility and convenience that such on-line services provide.
Now, reading the terms of service for Google Docs gives you an idea of things you might like to ponder before using the natty offering in a business context.
In the terms it states that Google reserves the right to “pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all content”. In other words, Google can review everything you create and store within Docs and alter it in any way the company deems fit.
Later in the terms it says:
“By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence 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.”
Now I’m not suggesting there is any evil intent here, but it does give you pause for thought. Essentially you’re agreeing to the company being able to do anything it feels like with any of your content. Still happy to press that little “I accept” button?
So before you sign up for that next must-have web 2.0 service, spend the 10 minutes it takes to actually read the terms of service. You might just be glad you did.
|Subscribe to Hydrapinion|