Why do people get so creeped out when Google offers cool stuff for free but also uses it for its own advantage?
The buzz this week has been about Google Drive, which allows people to store up to 5 gigabytes of documents, photos, videos and other content online. It's pretty darn convenient. And with no cost whatsoever, it's pretty darn reasonable.
But some critics have said Google Drive represents a potential invasion of privacy because the company could use people's content for its own purposes, such as flogging it to advertisers.
Here's the thing: That worry isn't new. Everything you post to Google, whether in the form of a Gmail message or a chat, basically becomes Google's property, at least in part.
Here's what the company says in its terms of service for all Google products:
"When you upload or otherwise submit content to our services, you give Google (and those we work with) 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."
The rule, I think, is this: If you want to keep things to yourself, don't stick them on the Internet.
Otherwise, if you want to enjoy the convenience of all these online bells and whistles, just remember that the price isn't money. It's privacy.