Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Google Apps or Microsoft Online. Is Either Secure?

I've done a little research, which consisted of reading the privacy policy and service agreements for both Google Apps and Microsoft Online. Both are Beta products. Both offer online applications with data storage. My interest is in what these companies are going to do with my data.

The differences between the 2 companies continue to stand out, in that Google remains an advertising company interested in gathering data and statistics from what ever files, email, search and web content you post to one of their services, while Microsoft remains a software company. Google wants to temp you with quick little applications and services to get you to provide them more information about you that they can use to make money through advertising. Microsoft wants to sell you software. However, neither company is taking responsibility for backing up and both may choose to delete your account and the data it contains at any time with or without notice to you.

Of course as an advertising company looking to mine data that it can sell to marketers it makes sense that Google is going to offer my data up for sale because that it how they make their money. But if Google is potentially going to share my data with anyone then I can't use their service. If either company is going to offer to store my files but not back them up, then I can't use their service. How many truly disposable files do I have? Very few.

I would strongly suggest that you add unauthorized online storage and services to your list of banned locations. No one wants their corporate data to show up in a Google search or to be displayed for public viewing without your consent.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of both company policies.

Google Policy Microsoft Policy
….. 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. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services. Microsoft considers personal information collected through the Service to be confidential to you and the business or enterprise customer or partner for the Service where the information was collected. We will collect and use your personal information to provide, operate, and improve the Service.
You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

Except as described in this statement, we will not disclose your personal information outside of Microsoft and its controlled subsidiaries and affiliates without your consent. We occasionally hire other companies to provide limited services on our behalf, such as technical support, transaction processing, or statistical analysis. We will only provide those companies the personal information they need to deliver the service, and they are prohibited from using that information for any other purpose.

Information that is collected by or sent to Microsoft may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries, or agents maintain facilities, and by using a Microsoft site or service, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country. Microsoft abides by the safe harbor framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of data from the European Union.

Visiting http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/index.html and http://www.microsoftonline.com will get you to the original full documents.


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