Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Google Spreadsheets

Looks like Google is opening a new front in its perceived assault on Microsoft by introducing Google Spreadsheets. As of right now it's a Google Labs project in a limited test, but the same old privacy questions keep coming up with each new Google product: what does Google know about me? As Google creeps into web-based office programs (is a Google Word far behind?) it will open up small businesses to the kind of privacy threats that individuals currently have to deal with. Google's privacy policy leaves consumers a bit wanting in terms of knowing that 3rd parties - like the NSA or FBI in particular - won't be rifling through their data. Fortunately, the Spreadsheet privacy policy says:
You may permanently delete any files you create in Google Spreadsheets. Because of the way we maintain this service, residual copies of your files and other information associated with your account may remain on our servers for a week.
While the Gmail privacy policy says:
You may organize or delete your messages through your Gmail account or terminate your account through the Google Account section of Gmail settings. Such deletions or terminations will take immediate effect in your view. Residual copies of deleted messages and accounts may take up to 60 days to be deleted from our active servers and may remain in our offline backup systems. (emphasis added).
Though I don't know if this is a difference based on technological limits, but Google certainly provides more privacy when it comes to Spreadsheets than Gmail. One can only wonder whether this is to soothe businesses who would be fearful of using Spreadsheets. If so, the motto may be in further trouble.
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