Cloud storage should be all about peace of mind. With your files backed up online, you don’t need to worry about losing a hard drive or having your laptop stolen. Your photos and documents are safe.
But wait, I hear you cry. Don’t you have to click ‘accept’ to terms and conditions used by cloud storage providers like Microsoft and Google? Terms that run into thousands of words and cover their rights to your files?
Well, yes, you do. And I won’t lie, some of these terms are scary-looking.
Take the T&Cs used by Google to cover its Google Drive cloud storage. Accept these, and you’re allowing Google to ‘use’, ‘reproduce’ and ‘modify’ your content. And, rather worryingly, you give it the right to ‘publically perform, publically display and distribute’ your content.
It’s a similar story with Microsoft SkyDrive, governed by terms that allow Microsoft to ‘use’, ‘modify’, ‘adapt’, ‘distribute and ‘display’ your content.
This type of language seems to be putting some people off. In our survey of Which? members last year, two thirds said they had concerns about the privacy and security implications of using cloud storage.
Head in the cloud clauses
OK, so there are certainly some intimidating terms. And taken to their extreme, you could believe you’re signing away the rights for huge corporations to use your private photos or videos in their own marketing campaigns, if they chose to.
But here’s the thing – I don’t believe they would. The likelihood of this happening is as close to zero as can be. So what do these terms mean?
The right to perform or distribute your content is required for Google to show your videos on YouTube when you choose to share them, for example. It’s not looking to put them in its adverts.
Modifying or using your content could include creating thumbnails of your picture files so they can be neatly stored in your cloud drive. They’re not looking to dip into your pics and start photoshopping a moustache onto your face.
Improving cloud clarity
I love cloud storage for the security it gives me over my important files. But I do understand how this sense of security could be eroded for a lot of people by opaquely-worded T&Cs. In fact, in another of our surveys, almost 90% of respondents said they felt there was too much legal jargon in online T&Cs.
At Which? we think T&Cs should always be presented in a consumer-friendly manner, and that companies should use plain English and clear examples to help their customers understand potentially complex privacy issues.
Ultimately, this works in favour of both consumers and the companies themselves. With worrying terms cleared up, customers will feel more comfortable backing up their private files, photos and documents to online.