A message on Twitter pointed out some differences between the terms of service of Microsoft's SkyDrive, and Google's Google Drive cloud hosting service. When you look at Google's Terms of Service that many of the company's services share, you will notice that you are giving Google "a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content" when you upload files to Google Drive.
We have seen similar broad terms of services from other services such as Amazon's Cloud Drive.
Google notes however in the terms of service that the license is used by the company "for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones".
Microsoft's Terms of Service for Windows Live products show that terms of service do not have to go that far. The company states:
Except for material that we license to you, we don't claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content. We also don't control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the service.
If you read on, you find a paragraph that looks on first glance very similar to Google's TOS.
You understand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service.
Microsoft needs the rights "solely to the extent necessary to provide the service" while Google wants to use the license for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving [their] Services, and to develop new ones".
Both Microsoft and Google are large corporations that want to generate revenue from their services. It pays therefor to look at the terms of services of cloud hosting providers before you start uploading your files to the cloud.
In the end, it is up to the individual user or business to protect their files and privacy. One viable option in this regard is the encryption of files before they are uploaded to third party online storage services. While you may lose some functionality - like editing documents - you make sure that companies can't access a file's contents.
Are you concerned about those terms of service?
Update: A Google spokesperson made the following statement: “As our Terms of Service make clear, ‘what belongs to you stays yours.’ You own your files and control their sharing, plain and simple. Our Terms of Service enable us to give you the services you want — so if you decide to share a document with someone, or open it on a different device, you can.” This refers to the following sentence in Google's TOS:
Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.