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(Slate)   Can you live without Google? What if they suspended your account without explanation?   (slate.com) divider line 46
    More: Scary, Google, recorded message, Googleplex, ether, Google Reader, Google Voice, explanations  
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7399 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Apr 2013 at 2:10 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2013-04-25 08:46:23 AM  
6 votes:
If the service is free, you are not the customer. You are the product.
2013-04-25 03:05:02 AM  
5 votes:
Old and busted: backing up data from your hard disk on the cloud.
New hotness: backing up data from the cloud on your hard disk.
2013-04-25 02:38:00 AM  
5 votes:
"My data was intact save for the last thing I'd worked on-a spreadsheet containing a client's account numbers and passwords. It seems that Google's engineers determined this single document violated policy and locked down my entire account. "

I'll tell you this much- if I was a client of this asshole, and found out that he had my account # and password in a spreadsheet that he was storing on a cloud service, I'd cease to be a client right quick.

I'd say Google did this guy's clients a favor.
2013-04-25 02:45:58 AM  
3 votes:

GWSuperfan: "My data was intact save for the last thing I'd worked on-a spreadsheet containing a client's account numbers and passwords. It seems that Google's engineers determined this single document violated policy and locked down my entire account. "

I'll tell you this much- if I was a client of this asshole, and found out that he had my account # and password in a spreadsheet that he was storing on a cloud service, I'd cease to be a client right quick.

I'd say Google did this guy's clients a favor.


What has me a bit confused is how they found this info. Did they look at the contents of the spreadsheet and then freeze the account? Was there something in the file name that alerted them? Do they make a habit of reading the actual contents of work stored in Google Docs? Isn't there some sort of privacy issue to be concerned about here?!?!
2013-04-25 12:36:09 AM  
3 votes:
Suspended Google account?  What, did I repost things Google had tried to delete, or discuss other people who had their account suspended?
2013-04-24 10:39:19 PM  
3 votes:
What's a Google account?
2013-04-25 02:37:53 AM  
2 votes:
I can't understand why anyone would rely solely on the cloud in the first place. Cloud computing is pointless in a world where you can carry all your data on encryptable keychains that keep shrinking.
2013-04-25 02:36:32 AM  
2 votes:
2000: don't be evil

2010: be as evil as you want but lie about it

2013: come to the dark side we have cookies
2013-04-24 11:24:34 PM  
2 votes:
What if I went outside? These questions are rhetorical.
2013-04-24 09:09:55 PM  
2 votes:
If they suspended my gmail account, it would likely be months before I noticed.
2013-04-25 02:14:21 PM  
1 votes:
Google not only reserves the right to take away or vaporize our data for any reason, but it also reserves the right to discontinue services, the means to access it, whenever it wants.

Just a reminder, folks, for those of you eager to have access to such services as either a money-saver or time-saver. If you don't have physical control of it, you don't really own it. I've harped on this point with regards to e-books, but it really applies to anything.
2013-04-25 02:10:24 PM  
1 votes:

I_Am_Weasel: If they suspended my gmail account, it would likely be months before I noticed.


And I'm done. I'd miss only my YouTube playlists, and not very much at that. Everything else is a wasteland of apathy.
2013-04-25 01:32:54 PM  
1 votes:

Electrify: That said, did he set it to public, or private but shared? If it was the latter, then Google was probably out of line. If it was the former, then perhaps a warning email asking for an explanation/asking to remove the offending file off of Drive would have been sufficient


Maybe I worded it oddly, but that's pretty much what I meant as well and agree.  His later blog post didn't make that clear either, but if it was public, then I can see why they'd take action.  If it was private/shared then Google was out of line.
2013-04-25 01:25:21 PM  
1 votes:

Lumbar Puncture: Electrify: If only there was an option to keep files and documents private...

/for someone who is not new to the internet, you seem to be confused about the difference between "cloud storage" and "Facebook wall"
//if he does decide to make these sensitive files public, then that is between him and his clients

Huh?  I'm completely aware that there is a way to make the files private, which if you read what I wrote I specifically made the distinction between publishing the files publicly and privately.  Google Docs let's you do both.  While it isn't the same as putting it up on your facebook wall, it's certainly not secure.

As for making those files public being between him and his clients, sure it is.  But he's using Google Docs which specifically forbades publishing sensitive material.  So he can make it public all he wants, but not while using Google Docs.  Is that hard to understand?

The guy wrote a follow up post on his blog where he wrote this:
It was a spreadsheet that I created at the request of my client to track business-related information, including account info and passwords for things like their Twitter and POS system. In other words, the spreadsheet contained the same sort of information that many, many businesses and individuals store in their Drives. I gave the document a name that included the phrase "password directory" and also created an accompanying form, which included a field named "password," to allow my client to continue updating the spreadsheet.

I suggested to my client that we store the document offline, thinking at worst a hacker could get a hold of it, but my client assured me they weren't concerned about the risk, having created similar documents in the past with no problems.

Which makes me wonder who his client is because I don't want to do business with someone who keeps spreadsheets like that public because they're not concerned about the risk.


Okay, I'll admit I may have misread your post.

That said, did he set it to public, or private but shared? If it was the latter, then Google was probably out of line. If it was the former, then perhaps a warning email asking for an explanation/asking to remove the offending file off of Drive would have been sufficient.
2013-04-25 12:41:57 PM  
1 votes:

Electrify: If only there was an option to keep files and documents private...

/for someone who is not new to the internet, you seem to be confused about the difference between "cloud storage" and "Facebook wall"
//if he does decide to make these sensitive files public, then that is between him and his clients


Huh?  I'm completely aware that there is a way to make the files private, which if you read what I wrote I specifically made the distinction between publishing the files publicly and privately.  Google Docs let's you do both.  While it isn't the same as putting it up on your facebook wall, it's certainly not secure.

As for making those files public being between him and his clients, sure it is.  But he's using Google Docs which specifically forbades publishing sensitive material.  So he can make it public all he wants, but not while using Google Docs.  Is that hard to understand?

The guy wrote a follow up post on his blog where he wrote this:
It was a spreadsheet that I created at the request of my client to track business-related information, including account info and passwords for things like their Twitter and POS system. In other words, the spreadsheet contained the same sort of information that many, many businesses and individuals store in their Drives. I gave the document a name that included the phrase "password directory" and also created an accompanying form, which included a field named "password," to allow my client to continue updating the spreadsheet.

I suggested to my client that we store the document offline, thinking at worst a hacker could get a hold of it, but my client assured me they weren't concerned about the risk, having created similar documents in the past with no problems.


Which makes me wonder who his client is because I don't want to do business with someone who keeps spreadsheets like that public because they're not concerned about the risk.
2013-04-25 12:35:15 PM  
1 votes:
SleepingEye:
If APL shuts down your account, you lose access to EVERYTHING.  Media, apps, access to your device (especially on factory reset, where you *NEED* an account to even start using the phone for it's phone purposes).

If Google shuts down your account, your Android phone will happily continue to work (even after factory reset -- you d ...


And if AT&T shuts down your account you can't make phone calls.  OMG.
2013-04-25 12:32:58 PM  
1 votes:
I have free 25GB in Box and free 25GB Skydrive. it's only  1GB used between both and that's because my phone uploads pictures to Skydrive
2013-04-25 12:12:10 PM  
1 votes:

heavymetal: FTFA: I had assumed it never happened at all. Sure, it had occurred to me when I had moved my work and memories into the "cloud" that I was relying on other people to keep them safe on their servers. But I figured a company with $50 billion in revenues and the modest aim to "organize the world's information" had to run a tight ship. Anyway, it seemed implicit that in allowing Google to use my data, I could rely on Google to hold on to it-and to give it back.

There is your mistake right there dude. Do not have 100% faith in a commercial entity because you are really nothing to them; especially a company that is doing well and kind of has a vast default customer base thanks to a the Android OS. I will never understand "fanboys". While it doesn't imply he is a "fanboy" of Google, his actions and total faith in Google does. It's no different with Apple. Both have interlinked their services with their products to the point if you become too dependent on the products or services of either company, you are actually giving up and giving to them control over an aspect of your life.

Heck if Apple decides you did something wrong they can disable your iTunes account and you lose the rights to all the music you got through iTunes. Truth is unlike a CD you are not buying the music, just the right to listen to it which they can revoke at any time.

While I understand the concept and convenience of "cloud computing" and its advantages I also understand the downsides, and I would never use anyone's "cloud service" as my primary data storage place for anything. Physical computer storage is just too cheap to buy to be dependent on any company.


If APL shuts down your account, you lose access to EVERYTHING.  Media, apps, access to your device (especially on factory reset, where you *NEED* an account to even start using the phone for it's phone purposes).

If Google shuts down your account, your Android phone will happily continue to work (even after factory reset -- you don't need to log into an account until you try to use Google services), and all built in services can be easily and seamlessly replaced with alternatives (Amazon Store, Garmin GPS software, etc.)

This is why I'm a fan of Google; I see their user-facing persona and I like it (Dashboard tells you what they have on you, and it's easy to switch in and out of their services if I ever deem them "evil", etc)
2013-04-25 12:01:37 PM  
1 votes:

RickN99: With my iPad, I'm more productive than someone with a laptop or desktop.


I agree.  Fruit Ninja is much easier on a tablet.
2013-04-25 11:50:35 AM  
1 votes:
Startpage.com
2013-04-25 11:27:29 AM  
1 votes:

Slaves2Darkness: WTF? How could they be so stupid!? Your client just farked security and Google is the one that is evil!?

Who the fark uses any Cloud service as their sole repository for contact info, calendars, or to store data? Are there really a whole lot of people ignorant of basic data storage and back up procedures?


Let's try this again:  Why is google reading your spread sheet and deciding to lock your account over it containing a field called 'password'.  Yes, putting a list of passwords on the internet isn't a brilliant move.  But what is google doing going around locking people's accounts because of benign things like the word password being present, worse why are they flagging on that word period, they want to know if your doc has the word password in it for some reason... RED FLAG.

Ignore the stupid sysadmin move, that's not the cause for alarm.  Why is google reading your spreadsheet for passwords and then only giving you access after one of their staff reads that file.  Reads your password, knowing it contains passwords.
2013-04-25 10:47:37 AM  
1 votes:

The Stealth Hippopotamus: This.

I didn't know you could have a google account.

Now if some touched my Amazon account.....

The horror the horror


So show us on the doll where they touched your Amazon account.
2013-04-25 10:45:34 AM  
1 votes:

HotWingAgenda: ZeroCorpse: GWSuperfan: "My data was intact save for the last thing I'd worked on-a spreadsheet containing a client's account numbers and passwords. It seems that Google's engineers determined this single document violated policy and locked down my entire account. "

I'll tell you this much- if I was a client of this asshole, and found out that he had my account # and password in a spreadsheet that he was storing on a cloud service, I'd cease to be a client right quick.

I'd say Google did this guy's clients a favor.

What has me a bit confused is how they found this info. Did they look at the contents of the spreadsheet and then freeze the account? Was there something in the file name that alerted them? Do they make a habit of reading the actual contents of work stored in Google Docs? Isn't there some sort of privacy issue to be concerned about here?!?!

He didn't actually say that the contents of the spreadsheet was what got him suspended.  Only that it's the only document Google refuses to give back, and that he needs it because it has all his client info.  No explanation for why he would store all of his clients' passwords in a spreadsheet on a Google server, though.


He's basically announcing to the world he has no concept of an NDA or client-contractor privacy.

Google absolutely does read everything you put on their platform. They're constantly scanning emails, goog docs etc .. for marketing buzzwords and other initiatives.

It probably had things in it that matched a metric google had faith in its own processes enough that it tripped a "lock out" feature. Why this is, goog won't say. Goog is under no legal requirement to say. You trusted goog with your stuff, dumbf0ck.
2013-04-25 10:44:39 AM  
1 votes:

BumpInTheNight: So in the end it turns out her spreadsheet contained login info for a client's servers and other online accounts, the client actively worked with her to make this file and put it on google drive.  It must have tripped some new anti-hackery initiative where google is reading through your spreadsheets looking for sinister words like 'password'...you know just google's usual trawling through everything you store in their service, reading all your stuff and you know, the usual.  Nothing to see here, just google reading your stuff again.  No big.

yikes, google why you so evil now?


WTF? How could they be so stupid!? Your client just farked security and Google is the one that is evil!?

Who the fark uses any Cloud service as their sole repository for contact info, calendars, or to store data? Are there really a whole lot of people ignorant of basic data storage and back up procedures?
2013-04-25 10:38:34 AM  
1 votes:

Esroc: I can't understand why anyone would rely solely on the cloud in the first place. Cloud computing is pointless in a world where you can carry all your data on encryptable keychains that keep shrinking.


Non technical people finally rid themselves of those smelly awful negative nellies in IT. All I have to do is upload this to a magical web site and its stored? I don't have to maintain a server cluster or patch everything or worry about viruses? What happy times are these!! Joyous rapture!! The end of IT as we know it!!

Its hilarious watching dumbf0cks who shed all technical knowhow beyond "how to operate a browser" stumble learning basic IT. Good luck fellas. I'm sure that preso wasn't that important anyway. Did you have payroll on that missing laptop, or just the sales decks? I'm sure there's no fines for causing an ID theft, they never figure out who caused that stuff anyway.
2013-04-25 10:23:31 AM  
1 votes:
If this news gets spread, I expect someone's head to roll at Google. Google wants people to trust them with their information and use their services, and if people think that engineers will go through their private information and documents and make irrational decisions based on what they find, people will jump ship.

If this is true and gets out, expect a huge PR campaign from them to rebuild trust.
2013-04-25 09:42:12 AM  
1 votes:
Suspend my account, Google? Bing it on!

But, yeah... that would suck.
2013-04-25 09:36:35 AM  
1 votes:
This is why I have a "backup" Google account that has at least read access to most of these things:

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2007/12/creating-backup-for-your-go og le-account.html
2013-04-25 09:26:07 AM  
1 votes:
I've had two GMail accounts since back when they first opened it to the public invite-only beta.  I'd miss those a bit but I've had Yahoo email as a backup all these years for just that reason.

Bing is tolerable, but I've been getting back into Yahoo recently.  The mail isn't as annoying as it used to be, or their site (yes I know it's powered by Bing), and their newest mobile apps are fantastic (the weather one, seriously check it out).

So yeah, I could live without Google but I'd rather not.
2013-04-25 09:05:44 AM  
1 votes:
Can someone shop Google in here:

www.ethannonsequitur.com
2013-04-25 09:02:59 AM  
1 votes:

BumpInTheNight: Nope this was just a matter of the user had a spreadsheet of login info for stuff they manage and google decided that was suspicious and disabled the whole account over it. Nothing to see here, just google snooping around a person's data and decided they didn't like what they saw despite it being perfectly legit. Nothing to see at all.


That's what bugs me.  Google should not be looking at the contents of my Excel documents, whether it was done by an automated process or a nosy engineer.  Fark that noise.

Author or the article needs to tell all her clients that their passwords have been compromised and to change them.  And then stop uploading that kind of document to any online storage service unencrypted.
2013-04-25 08:58:09 AM  
1 votes:

steveGswine: And if you read the Terms and Conditions that Microsoft legal puts out, after working with every business in the world for a quarter century


Until very recently, MS sold softwares licenses (effectively in perpetuity) and support contracts. The licenses are useful, but come with as little warranty as provided by law, and the services that Microsoft provide contract customers those Google provide in those cases aren't really comparable.

That leaves the Software-as-Service lot:L HotMail, SkyDrive etc, which is governed by a Code of conduct. And if you break the terms of that code, they will lock your account. Oh and one of the things you mustn't do is:
invades anyone's privacy by attempting to harvest, collect, store, or publish private or personally identifiable information, such as passwords, account information, credit card numbers, addresses, or other contact information without their knowledge and willing consent.

Which is exactly what this guy was perceived to have done.
2013-04-25 08:10:10 AM  
1 votes:

paswa17: It would not affect me in the least.

If my gmail were to shut down - no problem. Whenever I get an email, I have my account set up to automatically print, fold, stuff into an envelope, add postage, and mail to my own PO Box. That way I won't lose my data.


You sound like one of the over-55s people I know that makes over $100,000 annually...

1. Print out email.
2. Write response on print out.
3. Send it back via inter-office snail mail.
2013-04-25 07:46:19 AM  
1 votes:
I'd miss google image search (though you don't need an acct for that) but that's all I use it for these days as I tried to stop using them over a year and a half ago.

I've switched to duckduckgo because they don't track you left and right (or serve up ads).  I certainly don't use gmail or google docks or any of that crap.
2013-04-25 07:44:45 AM  
1 votes:
You get what you pay for.
And Google got paid a lot during your tenure, just not by you.

It will be interesting to see if legislation steps in to expand the rights of non-paying customers. The question would be: Why?
2013-04-25 07:40:31 AM  
1 votes:

GWSuperfan: My money is on an algorithm scanning the data that got matched. The same way Google determines what ads to show alongside your inbox. It's all an automated system with no human intervention, so no privacy issue.


However, you're just guessing.
Everyone should assume that anything you give to google can be compromised and read by someone, even if it is just a "Google engineer."  Do not store sensitive documents there, or encrypt them if you do.
2013-04-25 06:04:12 AM  
1 votes:
FTFA: I had assumed it never happened at all. Sure, it had occurred to me when I had moved my work and memories into the "cloud" that I was relying on other people to keep them safe on their servers. But I figured a company with $50 billion in revenues and the modest aim to "organize the world's information" had to run a tight ship. Anyway, it seemed implicit that in allowing Google to use my data, I could rely on Google to hold on to it-and to give it back.

There is your mistake right there dude. Do not have 100% faith in a commercial entity because you are really nothing to them; especially a company that is doing well and kind of has a vast default customer base thanks to a the Android OS. I will never understand "fanboys". While it doesn't imply he is a "fanboy" of Google, his actions and total faith in Google does. It's no different with Apple. Both have interlinked their services with their products to the point if you become too dependent on the products or services of either company, you are actually giving up and giving to them control over an aspect of your life.

Heck if Apple decides you did something wrong they can disable your iTunes account and you lose the rights to all the music you got through iTunes. Truth is unlike a CD you are not buying the music, just the right to listen to it which they can revoke at any time.

While I understand the concept and convenience of "cloud computing" and its advantages I also understand the downsides, and I would never use anyone's "cloud service" as my primary data storage place for anything. Physical computer storage is just too cheap to buy to be dependent on any company.
2013-04-25 05:46:01 AM  
1 votes:

TheOmni: I'm still hoping that Google decides to return to their "Don't be evil" motto, but realistically I don't have that much hope. I'm very slowly trying to at least somewhat separate myself from my dependence on Google. I purchased a domain name so I could get my own email address. But I manage it through Google Apps and forward it to my existing gmail inbox. So that's like half a step in the right direction.


A company adopting a motto like "Don't be evil" always puts me in mind of people that say "I'm not racist but..."
2013-04-25 05:44:51 AM  
1 votes:
I have nothing on cloud services I don't also have on a hard drive. my huge gmail account is even backed up to a local mailbox. It literally never occurred to me to think of a 'cloud' as a secure reliable store.

Trust no motherfudger with anything you care about.
2013-04-25 05:42:00 AM  
1 votes:
So in the end it turns out her spreadsheet contained login info for a client's servers and other online accounts, the client actively worked with her to make this file and put it on google drive.  It must have tripped some new anti-hackery initiative where google is reading through your spreadsheets looking for sinister words like 'password'...you know just google's usual trawling through everything you store in their service, reading all your stuff and you know, the usual.  Nothing to see here, just google reading your stuff again.  No big.

yikes, google why you so evil now?
2013-04-25 05:20:29 AM  
1 votes:

TheOmni: I'm still hoping that Google decides to return to their "Don't be evil" motto, but realistically I don't have that much hope. I'm very slowly trying to at least somewhat separate myself from my dependence on Google. I purchased a domain name so I could get my own email address. But I manage it through Google Apps and forward it to my existing gmail inbox. So that's like half a step in the right direction.


This.

If Google shut down my Apps account I'd certainly be disrupted, but in the end it wouldn't be a huge deal: I'd just switch my DNS MX records over to a different mail provider and keep the same address. My mail backups aren't as up-to-date as I'd like (this is a good reminder) so I need to take care of that.

Paying Google for Apps service also means they are more likely to work with you if something goes horribly wrong; there's no real obligation for support for their free accounts.

Other than mail, everything I store in Google's system is held in primary storage somewhere else, with off-site backups.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Don't rely on a free third-party service with whom you don't have a SLA for anything mission-critical. Even then, be wary. Anything that would be show-stopping if inaccessible should be handled locally with suitable backups.
2013-04-25 04:43:31 AM  
1 votes:

TheOmni: I'm still hoping that Google decides to return to their "Don't be evil" motto, but realistically I don't have that much hope. I'm very slowly trying to at least somewhat separate myself from my dependence on Google. I purchased a domain name so I could get my own email address. But I manage it through Google Apps and forward it to my existing gmail inbox. So that's like half a step in the right direction.


I've only a shred of hope after their latest stunt: Putting their resources in full support of CISPA.
2013-04-25 02:48:39 AM  
1 votes:
Just last night, I logged in to an old gmail account I hadn't checked in a while. I had set it up for a little sideline business I had that I'm no longer involved with. The email address was the name of the business, and that was how the Google account was listed. Until last night. Now, I can no longer list my account under a 'user name' it has to be my real name. Then I was instantly shuffled off into a G+ (is that a thing?) where Google kept prompting me to add my friends and tried to root through my contact list for 'friends' to add. Then It kept trying to get me to start a Google chat. Fortunately, when I initially signed up for that account, I set it up under a fictitious name, and I've never had any contacts on my gmail account.
2013-04-25 02:41:39 AM  
1 votes:
This is why the Cloud is such a bad idea.

In the future, no one will own anything. We will all pay to "use" stuff. And it can be taken away at any time for any reason because no one has the time, the patience, inclination or the legal expertise to read the ToS.
2013-04-25 02:19:36 AM  
1 votes:

The Stealth Hippopotamus: I_Am_Weasel: If they suspended my gmail account, it would likely be months before I noticed.

This.


Pretty much. My Gmail account is the one I use for signing petitions and such. Basically it's my spam dumping ground.
2013-04-24 09:34:21 PM  
1 votes:

Altair: I would lose of my ex-gf's nudes.  brb, backing up now


Send them to me. I'll back them up for you.
 
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