back to article Tossed all your snaps into the new Google Photos? You read the terms, right? ... RIGHT?

Netizens who have been scrambling to upload their photo libraries into Google's new cloud-hosted Photos service could find themselves sharing more than they wanted to with the Mountain View advertising giant. A clause in the Google Terms of Service notes that The Chocolate Factory reserves the rights to use anything you …

  1. James O'Shea

    they didn't want any more rights than I'd thought they would. In other words, they behaved exactly the way I thought they would... and that's why I won't be using their cloudy service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, it's a shame because if they'd give just a little more control over what happens and be more honest about it, I wouldn't have a problem. But their current "release a feature that'll pike private data and not tell the user about it" attitude has pushed me far away.

      I've moved contacts, calendar and file sync into a home-hosted OwnCloud instance because of this. My Google account is now only used for the Play Services.

      The worst part is they're damaging my Android fanboyism, I love Android, I loved Google's attitude up to the point where Android gained critical mass and they started their slippery slope into data gathering and owning Android by replacing core apps with proprietary Google apps.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      It's not as if it's a surprise or even something new. Did anyone here ever read the T&Cs for Geocities or AOL and their ilk back in the day? They pretty much claimed all rights over everything you uploaded or posted to their servers.

      Hosting always costs you something whether that be cash, rights or seeing adverts. TANSTAAFL

  2. Gannettt


    "Bend over, this won't hurt a bit!"

    1. BillG

      Re: Translation

      The three biggest lies in the world:

      1. The check is in the mail,

      2. We're from the government and we're here to help you, and

      3. At Google we respect your privacy

      1. Bladeforce

        Re: Translation

        4..At Microsoft we value your privacy

        5..Being Microsoft we only provide users details when asked by court

        6..We are providing it free

        1. RyokuMas Silver badge

          Re: Translation

          7. Only Microsoft have FUD-spreaders and astrotufers...

    2. razorfishsl Silver badge

      Re: Translation

      Yep unlike 'real' medical practitioners, they wont be using the 'bottom bot'

  3. jason 7

    Switched it off.

    Don't need it on my phone thanks.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Creepy. Google pray on stupid people. And there appear to be billions of them. The sooner people realise that their private data has value, and that google should be paying them to use google 'services' the better....

    1. Cliff

      Re: ugggghh

      I'm a stupid person by this definition. Except I'm not actually stupid, I made a deliberate payoff choice between good 'free' stuff, and some privacy. I made it based on the assumption that someone, somewhere was going to be tracking my activity no matter what, whether GCHQ, or just any other random SMTP server in my email routing. I had the choice to pay for expensive space for my webmail inbox or take up the Gmail offer of a huge inbox. Google Drive keeps 100 backup revisions of my work and means I can work wherever I am. Android reduced the cost of my phone and invigorated the smartphone market. I use Google's DNS servers to get past some of the rudimentary blocking my ISP thinks is good for me.

      I made that choice consciously, as otherwise I'd be dealing with several dozen different suppliers and paying each one. I still have that option if I choose it, but the value of my privacy isn't a big deal considering London has a zillion CCTV cameras, my oyster card and credit cards will give you a decent idea where I am and what my patterns of spending are, GCHQ or 5 could easily get just about all this information anyway so my absolute privacy is already just an illusion. This way I also get some good toys in return.

      In a few years, they'll have a whole bunch of data about a dead guy.

      I am expecting a raft of high-horse downvotes by the way, but as you do, consider that some people see the world differently than you do.

      1. JP19

        Re: ugggghh

        Same old crap,...

        Someone is going to be tracking me anyway....

        I don't mind giving Google all the WiFi passwords I have because WiFi isn't really secure anyway,..

        I don't mind Google backing up and syncing all my contacts and calendar information unencrypted because I don't give a shit about the privacy of my contacts.

        London has lots of CCTV cameras and I use an oyster card... FFS....

        Google gets away with this shit because people let them, most are ignorant twats - the ones that do it knowingly are just plain twats.

        And yes I expect lots of down votes from the other twats who like to feel better about themselves knowing they are not alone.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. G Watty What?

          Re: ugggghh

          No sense of self worth? Did you read his comment?

          It seems to me he had a look, made a choice and is happy with it. If anything his sense of self worth appears to be functioning quite adequately. It appears the only shame here is your ability to comprehend others might make a different choice to you. Whilst you might not hold much hope for Cliff, I'm a tolerant sort so I'll keep my hopes alive for you, however, it's unfortunate you posted as AC because now I don't even know who I'm hoping for, this is sad.

          1. Cliff

            Re: ugggghh

            Hmmm so I've no sense of self worth, yet post under my own account, not an AC with a sanctimonious judgemental attitude.

            As for whoever indicating that I'm just a twat, by all means say that to my face, but at long distance over the internet is not brave. Apparently we have different opinions, mine allows yours, yours disallows mine, you're not on the high ground here.

            1. JP19

              Re: ugggghh

              "Apparently we have different opinions, mine allows yours, yours disallows mine, you're not on the high ground here."

              Google behave like shits invading the privacy anyone they can at every opertunity and you using their services regardless encourage them to carry on doing so. I avoid using their services as best I can and so encourage them (as best I can) to behave better. When it comes to relative heights I know where I am standing.

              1. bigtimehustler

                Re: ugggghh

                I think you will find people might not agree with you, that doesn't make them stupid. Perhaps, after all, they think the same of your view point. Differing opinions makes the world go round, the fact your so adamant your right in your opinion and everyone else is wrong makes you arrogant. That is the only fact you have actually managed to prove here.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I'm a stupid person by this definition."

        What we need is cutting edge encryption... So that we can use the space Google is offering but stop them actually viewing the data we're storing or using it against our wishes. I'd be happy with that... Could be done as a browser plug-in, but it won't work so well for gmail type cases as the metadata would still be available to the g-man!...

      4. LDS Silver badge

        Re: ugggghh

        Maybe you'll change your attitude when they will start to install CCTV cameras inside your house, after all they track you already, don't they? Are those CCTV cameras connected to YouTube directly?

        Sure, you still lay behind you a lot of data, just some companies have far stricter privacy policies than others, and often because the law itself asks them that. Blindly giving others not bound to the same standards those data just because of laziness, does not look smart to me.

        Sure, some government agencies obtained and are asking too much access to private data without proper control, but it doesn't look to me a good reason to give away even more data to commercial companies - it just means to surrender and welcome the new "slavery".

      5. Any mouse Cow turd

        Re: ugggghh

        The only time anyone will really have to worry about their privacy becoming public knowledge is if they decide to run for public office, at which point the security services can dredge up any and all misdemeanors to use as collateral against you.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ugggghh

        > I'm a stupid person by this definition. Except I'm not actually stupid, I made a deliberate payoff choice between good 'free' stuff, and some privacy.

        Cool. Did the "we'll just fucking switch it off whenever we feel like" consideration also enter your decision making process?

        Because even if I did not have a wee lack of trust problem with Gurgle as regards privacy, their habit of trying something for a while then getting bored and pulling the plug does not exactly inspire me to rely on them (other than for advertising I suppose, but I do not deal with that side of things).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: update

    If they won't ever use the uploads for promotions, why are the T&C's written that way? <silence>

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: re: update

      "Google Photos will not use images or videos uploaded onto Google Photos commercially for any promotional purposes, unless we ask for the user's explicit permission."

      "If they won't ever use the uploads for promotions, why are the T&C's written that way?"

      Just prepping the way for the quietly released terms and conditions change to 'you may opt out from our using your photos by signing in and filling out our 12 page questionnaire (to improve your web experience), then unchecking the, "yes, you don't have my permission to not use my photos" block.'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: update

        mind you, the google spokesperson clarification is NOT a part of terms and conditions of this particular service. So it's worth shit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re: update

      Personally, I blame the lawyers. If you look at most of the words they use for what they say they are allowed to do, those are (mostly) exactly what they *have* to say in order to provide the service that the users want.

      "Use" - OK, don't really know what that means

      "Store" - well duh, you want them to store - that's why you uploaded

      "Reproduce" - well you upload it once, but you expect them to copy it for backup purposes don't you?

      "Modify" - that covers compression, resizing, etc.

      "Create derivative works" - some duplication with compression/resizing but might also cover translation of any text they can see on the photo (OK, this is perhaps a bit too wide for my liking)

      "Communicate" - somewhat like "Use", a bit meaningless

      "Publish" - well, you upload it one place, a different URL displays it - hey it's been "published"

      "Publicly perform", "publicly display and distribute" - hmm, well these could do with some clarification... as I've not looked into what is possible though, if you're able to send someone a URL (non protected) to one of your images, then they've publicly displayed/distributed it.

      So whilst no fan of Google, this is more lawyer-speak than Google-speak. There's such a fear of class-actions and generally being sued that they then go overboard in writing very wide-ranging terms which cover themselves. And at the end of the day, if you were in their shoes wouldn't you prefer to be 110% legally covered for everything (including things you have no intention of doing) than to be 90% covered and run the risk of court action?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: re: update


        You're quite right, of course, in that all these things are intrinsic to what they're ostensibly doing. But you'd require some restriction to say they're limited to just providing that specific service. And look, there is a restriction:

        "The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."

        So does that seem OK? Look carefully. In my first paragraph I said "specific service". In the restriction service is now in the plural and not even restricted to what currently exists. And promoting is added to what's allowed and that isn't in your list of what's reasonable.

    3. Martin 47

      Re: re: update

      "Google Photos will not use images or videos uploaded onto Google Photos commercially for any promotional purposes, unless we ask for the user's explicit permission."

      I note that he doesn't say that permission will need to be given, just that 'they' will ask for it.

      ......and once you have uploaded photos to them don't even think about changing your mind and trying to delete them, the most you can do is delete your own access to them.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: re: update

      Basically, translated form the spokesperson lingo the meaning is "we won't sell your photos to others ["commercially"] without your permission, yet we are still free to use them ourselves as much as we like".

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re: update

      "If they won't ever use the uploads for promotions, why are the T&C's written that way? <silence>"

      Good start, but how about this:

      "If they really won't ever use the uploads for promotions, then they won't mind changing the Ts+Cs to reflect that?" <silence>

  6. robertcirca

    So they look at every single foto

    So they look at every single foto to find out if they can use it commercially. How stupid must you be to store youre data there.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: So they look at every single foto

      Yes. Google *looks at every single photo*. It won't be a human to do it initially, it will be a bunch of algorithms, but images processing to extract useful data from them is pretty powerful in these days. Do you believe images and videos will escape the "Big Brother", oops, "Big Data" treatment?

  7. John Tserkezis

    I don't think it's going to make any difference. I'm STILL fielding calls from so-called "seasoned" facebook and Instragram users who are unaware of their overlord's policy on pinching their photos.

  8. TReko

    Add a bit of privacy

    Basically anything you put online can be looked at by others. I doubt whether individuals at Google will look at your photos, but their AI machines will.

    Encrypting the photos before uploading them can give you some security. Truecrypt is well rated, and there are specific Google Drive encryptors like Syncdocs All of these security tools add an extra step, and are more hassle. People are lazy, which is why they are seldom used.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Add a bit of privacy

      While that's essentially true, as I recall from the previous article on this, if you encrypt, you pay. And then there's the Google method of killing off services that they are either bored with or not turning enough profit. I expect in a couple of years, there will be a howl of protest from all those who put their pictures there and didn't back them up. On the other hand, will the loss of millions of selfies be a great loss?

    2. alun phillips

      TrueCrypt seriously?

      I thought the Dev took TrueCrypt offline when the feds compromised it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TrueCrypt seriously?

        "I thought the Dev took TrueCrypt offline when the feds compromised it"

        Yes the Truecrypt site went kinda strange.

        No there's no evidence the Feds compromised it.

        The source is publically available and has been independently audited and given a reasonably clean bill of health.

        The audit's conclusion was even covered on this very site (and probably elsewhere) a couple of months back:

        "The researchers behind the security audit of the TrueCrypt disk-encryption software have completed their work and say they have found no evidence of any deliberate backdoors or serious design flaws in its code. [continues]"

        So, take your pick, trust TrueCrypt or trust Google. It's not a hard choice.

  9. phil dude


    see my comment on other thread about privacy.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Google Photos will not use images or videos uploaded onto Google Photos commercially for any promotional purposes, unless we ask for the user's explicit permission."

    Tricky Google!

    "Can we use your picture on our billboard please?"


    "Well we said we'd ask. We didn't say you'd have to agree!"

    1. beast666

      ...and then.

      Why didn't you want your picture on the billboard Sir?

      I errrr...

      Take him down!!!


    2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      "Well we said we'd ask. We didn't say you'd have to agree!"

      In case/Before anyone dismisses this as a snide jab, isn't it more or less exactly what YouTube said to Zoë Keating?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Well we said we'd ask. We didn't say you'd have to agree!"

        It's exactly what Keating heard from them.

  11. Elmer Phud

    Sooooo . . . . what's new?

    Does anyone read the T&C's on any photo site?

    Have people not yet grasped that 'free' often comes with sub-clauses?

    You bung stuff on a someone's server and they have a price for the priviledge.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flickr Instagram, twitter, Facebook and iphoto

    All have very similar terms...

    Slow news day?

  13. Trooper_ID

    this news reminded me of something I had meant to do for ages. I went and eventually managed to log into picasa and deleted all content and then tried to close my account ( Gave up on that one). I then deleted all my flikr photos and closed that account (easy). I don't believe I have any photos on line except the very small few low def snaps I post in my twitter tweets. As for cloud? I have my own personal cloud courtesy of my NAS which is READ accessible by anyone on my invitation. So that works for me. Next, I have to tackle youtube and delete all content on there. I have no desire to store my photo's on other peoples servers subject to their Ts&Cs. My photo, my copy-write.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You might want to take out before you do so.

      How hard was that? Google have a very clearly written privacy policy, and an easy exit system. More companies should be like Google.

      Facebook still knows me, and who my family and friends are, 6 years after deleting all Facebook account data. Facebook and apple is where real privacy evil lies.... Google is just a lazy fashionable distraction.

  14. John Lilburne

    It is always wise to compare these T&C with the Yahoo ones:


    With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo Services other than Yahoo Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo removes such Content from the Yahoo Services.


    where the specifically state that they will not use them outside of the purpose for which they were uploaded.

  15. Brandon 2


    If you put it on the web, it's as good as gone, especially if it's good. External hard drives aren't that expensive...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      One thing is that any image displayed on screen can be stolen by someone who doesn't care about someone's else rights, another is a company blatantly asking you to renounce to your rights. Other photo sites, even those offering some tens GBs of free storage space, are far less "greed".

      Anyway I agree with you that if you want to store your image "safely", where safely doesn't mean protected only by "storage failure", there are other options, most of them not so expensive today, if you're not a professional but still need some good "backup" system.

      Besides "cheap" external disks, you could also buy a NAS, or even build it yourself with your older PC, a set of new disks, and some free software like FreeNAS. And then move some backups offsite, if you really need it.

  16. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Unless they ask

    And if the user doesn't reply in time??

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, catching up?

    I'm so glad The Register staff reads my comments.

    That's gotta be worth a beer the next time I'm in London :).

    Now, regarding that "update", I would like to point out that that is again a fudge that leaves gaps for creative interpretation (highlight mine): "Google Photos will not use images or videos uploaded onto Google Photos commercially for any promotional purposes, unless we ask for the user's explicit permission.".

    When it comes to US companies and law, only the contract matters if you want to drag them into court for misbehaving, and until those Terms & Conditions are explicitly amended with the update they can basically say anything they want without it changing something in the real world. A bit like "do no evil". As for the actual statement, the word "commercially" is where the trap lies - define that? If they don't charge for a service (well, other than nabbing details of your personal life which is apparently still defined as "free"), is it then "commercial"?

    Anyway, a lawyer will be able to dream up more "get out of paying a red cent for the abuse of anyone's material" clauses than I can, so I would repeat my original caution from 24h ago: if you are really going to use this "service", mark the edge of your images with a clearly visible copyright notice. Install something like ImageMagick and hack together a little script that can do this on images before you upload them.

    It means that any use will show your copyright notice in view as they are not allowed to remove it - under US law, interfering with a copyright notice is a criminal offence. It also allows people who are honest about rights to find you and discuss licensing (yes, they do exist, I'm one of them).

    1. Maynard G. Krebs

      Re: Ah, catching up?

      Might be easier for them to buy you that pint if only you hadn't posted as....... an anonymous coward....

  19. kurios

    Strong encryption

    I presume encrypting uploaded photos would prevent The Google from doing evil with your pix.

  20. garden-snail


    Genuinely confused about the way this is being reported. I've been using Google Photos (with its unlimited cloud storage) for over a year.

    It seems this announcement is an update to the way you can search your photos (I.e. by automatically generated categories), but the core Google Photos service is the same as it's always been.

    It seems like both on The Register and elsewhere it's being reported like Google Photos didn't exist until this week!

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first
      IT Angle

      Re: New?

      Clearly something has changed. I have a notification on my Android phone that I can click to access my "new" photo storage.


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone who uses anything by Google is a cunt

    "Please great God Google, take all my data in your quest for world domination!"

    Privacy is not a Guardian reader's wet dream, it's a fundamental human need. Even a four year old knows you close the bathroom door whilst having a shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone who uses anything by Google is a cunt

      for a trollbait, not bad :)

      otherwise, I bet you never used google search engine, and you never e-mailed anyone who used a google e-mail account, cause that you would make you one of us cunts too.

      p.s. presumably, having typed a website address, your apply your precognition powers to analyse the code for any traces of google, stumble upon google api, shock, horror, reatreat!

      p.s. did you remember to block the google double click tracker on this page?

      1. James O'Shea

        Re: Anyone who uses anything by Google is a cunt

        Oh, he's hunting downvotes. He won't get one from me.

    2. James O'Shea

      Re: Anyone who uses anything by Google is a cunt

      Intriguing. So using, for example, gmail makes one a cunt, does it? Some of us use gmail accounts as throwaways, never putting anything useful in there; the email account associated with my commentard account is from gmail, for instance. Some of us never actually go to the gmail web interface, and therefore never see any GoogleAds; I have my assorted gmail accounts (plural) dumping mail to an actual email client via IMAP. Google keeps on yapping at me that they want a cell phone number for two factor auth, and I keep ignoring them. They insisted that they wanted a 'profile'; I gave them one. According to that profile I live in Moonbase Alpha and I have a most intriguing photo.

      And, oh... personally, my fav part of the female anatomy is...

      1. Maynard G. Krebs

        Re: Anyone who uses anything by Google is a cunt

        You live at Moon base Alpha? !?!??! Sweet! Can you tell me how bad the nuc explosion that tossed the moon out of orbit and sped it up to a velosity that it can reach other solar systems was like? Just kidding I'm an old school Space 1999 fan and could not resist....

    3. Bladeforce

      Re: Anyone who uses anything by Google is a cunt

      What are you doing on the internet then if you think privacy IS a right? lol Switch it off...go hug a tree

  22. johnstevendepep

    To those who comment for their privacy, should not be a hypocrite. All giant tech company, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft are monetising our data. Please read their privacy policy.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Bladeforce

    You're on the internet, youre going to be tracked by your ISP anyway besides ads arent evil, at least they're tailored for you instead of porn ads when browsing with the kids like the bad old days.

    All this talk of Google data mining is just microsoft apologists jumping on a band wagon for no reason. Microsoft do it anyway...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What you don't know

    For those who do not care about trading their privacy for free software:

    You may not be aware of the capabilities of data mining and using multiple sources along with strong algorithms and predictive software. As everyone becomes numbers and stats, if give godly power to those who have access to it. Strong marketing power to separate you from your money... before someone else does... and seeing trends... just like you watch schools of fish swim on the discovery channel. It seems to me that it offers an unfair advantage to those that can afford it. It undoubtedly also lets politicians and the powers that be see what to say and how to get your vote.

    So it is not just a matter of your individual privacy that matters. It is the collective privacy.

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