Users blocked from files by Google Docs


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Reason 4,320,333 why I do not use Google: Some users of Google Docs yesterday were blocked by the company from their files because of “terms of service violations.”

In response to some of these reports, a Google employee tweeted that the team handling Google Docs was looking into the matter. Later Tuesday, Google said in a statement that it had “made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs.”

Although the error appeared to be a technical glitch, the fact that Google is capable of identifying “bad” Google Docs at all is a reminder: Much of what you upload, receive or type to Google is monitored. While many people may be aware that Gmail scans your emails — for instance, so that its smart-reply feature can figure out what responses to suggest — this policy extends to other Google products, too.

Here’s what this story reveals: Google monitors the content of the files that people store on Google Docs. Google has also developed software that can decide if some of that content is acceptable or unacceptable, to Google. Google can then block access to those supposedly private files, thus giving it the power to silence the work of anyone the company doesn’t like.

Sounds peachy-keen, doesn’t it?

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9 comments

  • Mark

    D̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ Be evil.

  • wayne

    Mark-
    Good one.

    I consume a lot of YouTube but o/w avoid Google. Unfortunately, 1/2 my friends use Gmail, and they definitely scan the Gmail, so I assume they know all about me. They are perhaps worse than the NSA, in that we can theoretically control the NSA. Google just does whatever they want.

  • BSJ

    ‘Cause the Gov’t tells them too.

  • Steve Burrows

    For the price (actually pay them for more features/storage, etc.), I’m happy with Google Docs, and since I know up front about how “private” my content is, that’s fine, too.

  • wodun

    The problem that I have with these tech companies is they do all the things they don’t want government to do. They will fight the government when it comes to solving a murder or stopping terrorism but will turn around and sell whatever data they collect to other businesses. Then they cave to every single demand places like China or Germany make when it comes to censoring people.

    I don’t want a totalitarian government but its not any better to substitute in a totalitarian company with more power than most governments.

    Google abuses its power all the time. Considering the influence they wield over the internet, it is not an ideal condition.

  • ken anthony

    This has always been an obvious possible behavior. Always assume evil and put the blame where it belongs… with the idiots willing to use these services.

    It is just our bad luck that idiots make the evil powerful enough to catch us all in their web.

  • ThoanEsq

    I don’t think it’s true that “Much of what you upload, receive or type to Google is monitored. ” They monitor *all* of it. If it violates their view of politically correct, it is subject to censorship. Also, all Alphabet/Google communication (including search queries) is subject to subpoena and federal “security letters.”

    Do your searching through Startpage. Keep your documents off the cloud. Don’t send anything over the internet you wouldn’t want a jury to see. These are rules to live by.

  • Andrew

    lol

    Okay I may rethink using Google Docs but I am finding it way to convenient and cheap to ignore.

    That said, Google has every right to monitor what you do on their site! Just like you would have every right to monitor someone doing stuff in your house! Google.com is NOT a public place. It is the private property of Google. If they want to monitor everything, use their massive infrastructure to engineer public thought and opinion well they just can guyz an galz.

    Because it is their stuff! Their Property! I would no more ask them to stop than I would tolerate anybody telling me that they have some “right” to do stuff I object to in my own living room.

  • Andrew: I agree with you about the right of google to do what it wants with the material uploaded to their sites. This is exactly why I do not use them. I disagree strongly with their methods and their use of that material, and thus find other ways to do things. Most of all, I do not store my private stuff on line with third party operations. Too much opportunity for misbehavior, with me being the victim.

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