Apr 30 2015

Is Google Docs Really Free?

By Bob Hooper for Island Eye News

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Google’s word processing and spreadsheet service Google Docs is basically Microsoft Office for free, right? Wrong. As with anything that is free there is always a catch, and with Google the “catch” is information.

When you type in a document or create a spreadsheet using Google’s free products you have agreed to allow Google’s bots scan every word and sentence you type. It’s part and parcel of the small print you agree to Google’s Terms and Services.

If you listen to Jamie Mellis’s Tech Talk on 1340 AM (Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon, another great tool to increase your knowledge about your digital world and computers) he did a bit about Google Docs this past weekend that is right in line with what I am saying. He talked about a family going camping and how ads had been targeted to them prior to their trip. So that’s how Google knows that I buy for my office or that we have a pool!

The same can be said for Google’s email service Gmail. Google’s bots scan all emails sent and received using the service so as to offer up “relevant” ads when you are surfing the web. Just be aware that Brother Google is “watching” whenever you use its services. But don’t think they are the only ones, basically all services do the same, just maybe not with as much gusto as Google, but still it goes on.

I’ve said it before but I will say it again: Treat all email as if it was a post card in snail mail… anyone can see it! Also remember that anything you put on the Internet is no longer private. Sadly, if you post a wonderful picture of that great time on vacation or the new grandchild it can get pulled by some idiot and used in all sorts of ways. There was a story recently about children’s pictures being used by people who had no children to show relatives their “new baby,’ very sad, not to mention disturbing.

Lastly, remember that convenience of Google docs, that all your documents are available wherever you go, is because they are stored in the cloud and therefore quite easily accessible by determined hackers.

As with all of my columns if you want help or have questions don’t hesitate to call Rent A Bob at 843.822.7794 or email at rentabob@live.com.

7 comments

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    • thisisnotnews on May 1, 2015 at 12:40 am

    This is not news.

    • Stewart on May 1, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Ummm, no. documents stored in the cloud are not “easily accessible” to determined hackers. If that were the case, then essentially all cloud docs would be in the public domain by now and that is surely not the case. Yes, people need to take security precautions (multi-factor authentication), but using the cloud is not the same as turning over your info to hackers.

    • Russ KInch on May 1, 2015 at 8:55 am

    What proof do you have that Google’s services are “quite easily accessible by determined hackers?” I feel that you are recklessly making very bold claims. Google has among the best security of all the providers and they constantly challenge the hacking community to break their security for the purposes of enhancing it. Users can take advantage of two factor authentication and they can see also recent logon activity at any time.

    While it is true that Gmail is scanned for ad purposes, Google’s terms of service state that Google Doc’s data is not. Again, if you are asserting that they are lying, please provide definitive proof as there a millions of users who use this service and this would be important information.

    I am in idependent consultant with 20 years experience. I do not work for Google, but I do use their products extensively. Agreed, you have to be aware, but I think you are not offering a balanced viewpoint.

  1. LOL …..@live.com 😀

    as is microsoft is a decent player !
    All the companies does the same !!

    • DIego on May 1, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    You provide no source for your claim “There was a story recently about children’s pictures being used by people who had no children to show relatives their “new baby,’ very sad, not to mention disturbing.”. You also state “is because they are stored in the cloud and therefore quite easily accessible by determined hackers.” with no evidence or example to substantiate your statement.

    • Lane on May 1, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Your concern about hosted solutions, while admirable, is misinformed. Your last claim about Google stored info being accessible to hackers isn’t even remotely back up with data. You really should do your homework before aiming your barrel at a company who’s security is matched by none. Not even banks (I’m guessing your anti online banking too).

    • Chris on May 2, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I don’t think you understand what the cloud is… also, google has what I would consider to probably be the strongest dedication and competency with regards to data protection and digital security of any major technology company there is.

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