The request comes after the recent incident in which some users Google docs were shared with other users and without permission. In an excellent piece of knee jerk reactionism, and exceptionally excessive reactionism at that, EPIC is claiming that, rather than being an isolated incident, the breach is an ongoing pattern at Google due to Google’s inherent lack of security;19. Google routinely represents to consumers that documents stored on Google servers are secure. For example, the homepage for Google Docs states “Files are stored securely online” (emphasis in the original) and the accompanying video provides further assurances of the security of the Google Cloud Computing Service.
20. Google also explicitly assures consumers that “Google Docs saves to a secure online storage facility . . . without the need to save to your local hard drive.”
21. Google encourages users to “add personal information to their documents and spreadsheets,” and represents to consumers that “this information is safely stored on Google’s secure servers.” Google states that “your data is private, unless you grant access to others and/or publish your information.”
22. Google represents to consumers, “Rest assured that your documents, spreadsheets and presentations will remain private unless you publish them to the Web or invite collaborators and/or viewers.”
EPIC is asking that, pending a federal review, all Google cloud services – Gmail, GDocs, GCal – be shut down.
Sure the security breaches were bad, just like cloud services going down is bad, but as I’ve said before – we all rely on electricity, telephone services, gasoline and health care. The fact that they all have service failures from time to time doesn’t mean we should stop using them. The same goes here – the benefits offered by cloud services are legion and as such a small failure rate does not condemn the entire system.
That’s not to say that Google shouldn’t be ensuring that breaches like this are avoided in the future – and I’m betting that there are a bunch of Google engineers sweating blood in the ‘plex right now to ensure that our data is safe and secure – pre-empted not by the whining and moaning of handwringing lobby groups like EPIC, but by plain simple economics – it’s bad business to have system failures. Google understands this as well as anyone.
So cut the hyperbole EPIC, and go find someone else to crucify.