Why I'm *not* Signing Up for Google Chrome OS Pilot Program

It's been all over the news that Google is starting a pilot program for it's Chrome OS, which I expect to be out within a few months. The pilot program is probably meant to get the last polish for the system. As my readers will know I'm always excited about new technology, especially dealing with Linux. But here's why I ended up not even trying to get into the program:


It boils down to the conditions you agree to when signing up. They are quite broad and Google reserves lot of rights to a lot. Here is en enlaged version of the text at the bottom of the sign-up page for individuals, my highlighting:
By selecting "I agree", you agree that Google may use, adapt, translate, and copy your submission materials to advertise, publicize, and promote Google's business activities in present or future media. You agree that Google may incorporate its own audio, visual, musical, and other effects into such materials. (...) 
If selected as a Chrome OS Pilot Program participant, I authorize Google to collect anonymous browsing statistics and other usage data for tracking and analysis purposes as outlined in the Google Privacy Policy, located at http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html. (..) 
Google reserves the right to contact you about Chrome OS or related Google products by email, phone, post, or in-person upon submitting this application. Please indicate your agreement to the above terms by clicking "I agree".

As you can see this is not just a beta-test where you supply Google with voluntary information and problems with the device. They can use your information (probably including your name) in advertisements and publications without your specific later consent. They may mix your information with other information. You must let them take statistics about your browsing.

And you must allow to come and contact you, even in person at your home address and probably even without prior notification. Just reading the text it seems that even if you're not signed up to the program, they could put your name, phone number, email and address in an advertisement about Chrome OS including the pages you visit frequently.

I mean, I'm not a lawyer, but this doesn't look to me like it's worth a netbook still in its development stage.

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12 comments:

  1. I would much rather have my personal information in an ad for Chrome OS (which is Linux based) than in an ad for Windows or Mac OS X, wouldn't you?

    What it boils down to is that, if it's open source, nobody should care if it is really out there to make you entrust all information to Google: at least Google is making RMS happy, for crying out loud! If it is proprietary (like the case with Windows Hacktivation) then it really does matter.

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  2. oh come on, if we knew, you actually signed up but didn't got one. ;)

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  3. I didn't sign up for it either, but for different reasons. All Google services have similar terms and I agree to them. That is how they make their money.

    In fact, I appreciate the fact that Google fights patent trolls, contributes to open source projects and is generally benevolent to the Linux community.

    The issue for me is that the whole operating system is just Google Chrome on top of Linux. In this environment programs are untrusted as well as users. Google wants you to go the the app store and pay them to make the machine functional. That feels too much like Apple.

    Sorry Google, but I own my computers. I determine what runs on them (Linux). Finally, I don't need Google selling me something that is already free (Linux) any more than I need Apple selling me something that is free (Unix).

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  4. If you use chrome then you already allow for this data to be made available effectively. The only reason you have to sign the TOS when signing up for the Chromebook is due to the simple fact you don't get a choice when it comes to which browser you use.

    How about you i sign up using your shipping address and then ill pay you to send it my way in ireland ( ill pay shipping and handling) and ill write up a FULL review for your site :-)

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  5. Please take off your tinfoil hat.

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  6. I think your blowing this out of proportion. Google is not going to post your address in its adverts, they are most likely going to quote you if you say something good about the device. They can only publish data that will help promote google, posting your private details does in no way help promote google. Also anonymous browsing statistics is useful for improving products, and is normal for beta applications, again this information is anonymous.

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  7. "just for you ed!" *taking of my tinfoil hat*

    Well, I think the issue is not only what Google is actually going to do. It's also what they are reserving themselves to do.

    If they asked me for the right to publish content from my emails I would be upset even if it was not very likely they would do it. I mean of course I can't be sure the provisions are legal and effective, either. Does that mean I should agree to them? I think not and rather err on the cautious side.

    They clearly lost a critic in their program here ;)

    And yes, I wouldn't mind them putting anonymous statistics in an ad, or putting a quote without my name in an ad, or putting a quote with my name in an ad -- if I can agree to it (or not!) specificly after seeing the ad. I think it's very unfair to ask for the general permission up from.

    They want feedback from you, fine. They force anonymous statistics on you - not for me. They force a general ad permission on you - not ever going to happen my friends!

    @Paul: nice point, too.

    @RevLin: No, the terms are different. They to include their general privacy policy as always, but the ones at the bottom of the page are surely in addition to that. And no, sorry, won't do. I'm not even sure that'd be legal either. Besides, they'd have my name on your statements which they might then publish. ;)

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  8. @jedipottsy: If they won't, then why are they requiring my permission to do so? This is exactly my point. Sign me a permission to sell your house and keep the profit. I'm probably not going to do it, but please sign here.

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  9. I am really struggling to see the big deal here. The only email they would use are those submitted to Google. Sound like a lot of reading of text that is not there.

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  10. Well the text is all quoted for your convenience so you can make your own ideas. And yes, I wasn't talking about them publishing *all* of your email addresses in an advertisement without specific consent, one would be bad enough in my view...

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  11. @D. because people are money grabbing who*es who like to sue. Google just have to cover all bases. This is google lawyers making this license agreement. Remember no matter which company they work for all lawyers the same.

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  12. Hmm. I'd say lawyers that include such broad permissions are not really good lawyers. Because today PR is too important to trust noone is reading it.

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