Google does not want rights to things you do using Chrome

Alright, I’ve got another conspiracy theory misconception to dispel. ๐Ÿ™‚ After reading through the Chrome Terms of Service, some people are worried that Google is trying to assert rights on everything that you do on Chrome. From one example story by Marshall Kirkpatrick:

The terms include a section giving Google “a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” That seems pretty extreme for a browser, doesn’t it?

I knew that Google didn’t want to assert rights on what people did using Google Chrome, so I asked the Chrome team and Google lawyers for their reaction or to clarify (probably several other people pinged them too). Here’s what I heard back from Rebecca Ward, the Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome:

“In order to keep things simple for our users, we try to use the same set of legal terms (our Universal Terms of Service) for many of our products. Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that don’t apply well to the use of that product. We are working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome.”

I hope that addresses the concerns that I’ve seen on a few places around the web. I appreciate that people pored through the Chrome license to find anything that looked unclear and then raised concerns so that Google could respond.

Update: I did this post quickly because I had to go to a meeting. Coming back to read what I wrote, I think I was too strident (both here and commenting a few places around the web) and I apologize for that. As a long-time Googler, I knew that Google wouldn’t want rights to everything that somebody did in Chrome. It also seemed like there had been incidents like this in the past and they always got cleared up quickly.

But it was clearly a mistake on Google’s part to include that language when it shouldn’t have been there, and I should have been grateful to the people that pointed it out. Instead of getting snippy with people, my reaction should have been more along the lines of “Oh crap, I don’t think that’s intentional. Thank you so much for noticing that and pointing it out. I’ll see if we can get an official clarification or reaction as soon as possible.” I apologize for that, and I appreciate the people who push Google to be better.

Update, September 3rd 2008: Earlier today, Google changed section 11 of the EULA to read as follows:

11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

I think that text is much better.

Update, September 4th 2008: Google provides a full explanation of how this happened and how they’ve corrected the Google Chrome End User License Agreement (EULA).

103 Responses to Google does not want rights to things you do using Chrome (Leave a comment)

  1. Two questions.

    1. Themes – When will we see them.
    2. milw0rm – Is this exploit being address?

  2. Thanks for that clarification – that should douse many flames.

  3. Happy to know this soap opera is over. Now people can shift their focus to actually using the code goodness Google provided yesterday.

  4. I read the license agreement prior to downloading.

    Uh, since I wasn’t publishing anything through the chrome browser, section 11 made no sense.

    But, for those using blogger, it may be a wake up call.

  5. The language in question was not unclear, in fact it was very clear!
    I love it when lawyers play dumb.
    They just wanted to simplify things. (caught with hand in cookie jar)
    They could just simplify things in favor of more liberal terms but more likely they just slip in the strictest language and hope no one notices. “I did not mean it” is not what they teach in law school.

    Nonetheless I’m glad that this is being addressed.

  6. I (and I’m sure others) appreciate the work that you are doing to make sure we all fully understand Chrome. Good to have this cleared up. Thank again.

  7. Well that’s good to know that they are taking out or changing Section 11. But it makes me wonder what area of Google’s services does Section 11 come from and apply to? and BTW, I love Chrome!

  8. Thanks Matt. However what is it going to change to? I think I’m going to hold off on using Chrome until the revised copy is published.

    I would have thought that Google would have seen this, anticipated this kind of response and then removed it. It some ways it makes my trust in Google drop.

  9. *thanks again

  10. The terms of section 11 seem extreme for any product or application that is openly distributed.

  11. Thanks for posting that Matt, it makes sense now.

  12. There’s a similar paragraph in the YouTube Terms of Use, but it’s sandwiched between this sentence:

    “For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions.”

    And this:

    The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Service.

    Which gives a better sense of Google’s intentions.

  13. So which of the 100’s of Google products are we giving “a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which we submit, post or display on or through”? I assume it’s Blogger, but…my tin foil hat ain’t coming off just yet ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I’ve found that Google errs on the side of keeping things 100% legit and honest, despite what rumors and beliefs float around out there.

  15. I see now ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Thanks for posting this Matt, again, great to hear a quick response to privacy concerns. From what I’ve heard on the blogosphere this was making people uninstall Google Chrome, so great to hear this response, hopefully those people will give it another try!

  17. Thanks for the clarification. I am/was one of the people who where wondering about this clause in the Terms of Service.

    As a very large and thus influential web company, Google should weigh each word in its privacy policies and terms of service, because concerned web citizens will read these letter for letter. Again, good job on debunking the conspiracy theories. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Well, I’m sure folks like Marshall knew that Google was not out to steal content. What people should be as concerned about is how the Chrome datastream will be processed now and over time, and how open will it be to examination by companies for advertising purposes ? Personally I’m OK with that but I think many people are not, and the lack of transparency in this area bothers me.

    How will my searches be used to target advertising ?

    Who can examine your Chrome search history? Anybody at Google? Google Partners? Sarah Palin?

  19. Er… How were our objections misconceptions? Nice spin, but it appears that our objections were real enough for your legal people to remove the section.

    Pro tip: real companies make sure they use license agreements that pertain to the thing being licensed. Boilerplate only goes so far.

  20. Wait, so Google doesn’t want to own every key that I press while I’m using their browser? This was all just a big misunderstanding that folks jumped all over as further “evidence” that Big G wants to own the entirety of the Internet?

    Well, that’s a relief, because I was just on the verge of uninstalling Chrome and finding a new sources for online document collaboration, e-mail, datebook management, RSS aggregation, web site statistics, real-world directions and, oh yeah, searching.

    Glad we cleared that up before anyone overreacted.

  21. Mistake is mistake.
    Update it and make an official apology to the users.

  22. It’s rather silly to say that Google do not WANT rights to our content when they HAVE rights to our content. It’s naive to say this is a mistake on the part of a large and legally-aware corporation. It’s no conspiracy, just a large corporation doing what they always do: writing licences that give themselves an unreasonable balance of rights. They’re not alone in this, but they are becoming a fairly outrageous example.

  23. A lawyer’s job is to get it right in advance.

    The terms state very clearly what they mean.

    “Oops, we got it wrong” isn’t a very good defence. What on earth is Product Management thinking when they let stuff escape into the wild with the wroing terms and conditions?

  24. Unfortunately that seems to be the way of the internet these days. Push out code as fast as you can, fix it later.

  25. Interesting and thanks for clearing that up. However I’m now interested in finding out what other Google products or services use that wording in the ToS. Hmmm…

  26. A lawyerโ€™s job is to get it right in advance.

    Wait a minute, I thought thee job was to drag things out as long as possible, churning the case for maximum revenue. Seriously though I appreciate the fact Google does not provide tons of customized legal mumbo jumbo, though I remain concerned that the reason they have such an open disclaimer is obviously *in part* to reserve the right to do things in the future with my data I may not like. That part of all this is troublesome.

  27. Hello Matt,

    I absolutely love your blog and, of course, quoted you several times already ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On a more serious note, thanks for clearing that up – the misunderstanding in your EULA was the latest “anti-Chrome” hype today, so hopefully it will be sorted soon. I would have been surprised Google claiming the ownership of everything one writes through Chrome. Would have been quite interesting though.

    Thanks again and I really enjoy reading your blog.


  28. The conspiracy theorists never seem to question the fact that their ISPs know much more about them than Google does.
    And the fact that most ISPs are telcom companies; companies, that historically, were willing to hand over full private info at the drop of a hat!

  29. @rick: It was a misconception because Google wouldn’t have owned any of the content submitted through Chrome under the universal TOS … as many people were assuming. It was a standard clause that allows Google to publish your content submitted through its services, such as Picasa or Google Docs or Google Video … not giving Google any kind of ownership of your content.

    But as it was causing confusion, and it’s not needed for Chrome, it’s being removed.

  30. I don’t really think that Google wants to own the whole world… at least not in the near future, anyway. But I appreciate the clarification! ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. I’m with Tim Trent on this one, Matt.

    I understand simplifying things: A ‘standard document’ is a great tool to save time; and Rebecca did quite well at explaining *how* such an arguable error got past Q.C.

    But, how would a judge or jury interpret “Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that donโ€™t apply well to the use of that product”? I’m inclined to think that, in a legal proceeding, a judge or jury would pose the question of “Why, if you know the possible problems, do you not pro actively address them?”

    This is one of those small points that will probably go resolved and never be addressed again. Great. But little things like this plant seeds of doubt that will grow like wildfire should there ever be a reason to revisit this subject again. Why sow seeds when you don’t intend to harvest the crop, you see?

    At any rate, many thanks for clarifying this detail and getting it resolved.

    Chat Man

  32. Great stuff. Thanks for the response, Matt, and thanks, Google – Chrome looks like it’ll ultimately become another improvement to the web =)


  33. Does anyone really think Google makes “oops” mistakes with regards to Terms of Service and licensing language?

    Obviously this is a reaction to the reactions of the community once it was pointed out.

  34. You google fan boys make me want to vomit. There are over 700 bugs listed on the Chromium project site, 2 major security vulnerabilites released already, several “standard” browser functionalities that were neglected or forgotten and you still get on your knees and… praise the software. Lets be honest, it’s not some godly browser, at least not yet. Try to be objective once in a while.
    Nice first iteration/beta release. Long, long way to go.

    As for the lawyers, as said previous… good cover up, but either they didn’t read the agreement or they tried to sneak one by. Either way shame on google.

  35. It looks clean but I don’t like the fact that you can’t drop down your last websites visited on the address bar by pressing the little black arrow like on explorer. Or, I just don’t see where to do it at.

    I’ve been trained to like Explorer and it’s going to take an awful lot to make me stop using it.

  36. rick, when first I saw this objection last night I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have, because it seemed like the 5th or 6th time where we’ve seen a new product launch, then someone claim from their reading of the license terms that “Company X owns everything you do if you own product Y” and that’s never what Company X wanted. Either Company X clarifies with a statement or changes the Terms of Service to make it clear–that wasn’t the intent.

    For example, in Marshall’s own story he mentions a previous anecdote:

    The wording on Chrome’s TOS is very similar to the TOS of Google Docs, which caused a similar outcry in Aug 07. At the time a Google Docs rep replied in our comments: “As we state in our terms of service, we don’t claim ownership or control over your content in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, whether you’re using it as an individual or through Google Apps. Read in its entirety, the sentence from our terms of service excerpted in the blog ensures that, for documents you expressly choose to share with others, we have the proper license to display those documents to the selected users and format documents properly for different displays. To be clear, Google will not use your documents beyond the scope that you and you alone control. Your fantasy football spreadsheets are not going to end up shared with the world unless you want them to be.”

    I also remember when Adobe releases a web-based photo editor and everybody was like “Dude, Adobe claims to own your photos as soon as you open them in Photoshop Express!” And Adobe was like, “No, that’s not what we intended at all. But we’ll change our Terms of Service to make it even more explicit.”?

    Update: And here’s another one, where AOL changed their Terms of Service. Many people were worried that AOL wanted to own all your IM messages until the company clarified. I found a good page on Snopes about it.

    So all I’m saying is that there are multiple examples where companies were trying to do reasonable things, not massive intellectual property land grabs by any means, and people automatically assumed the worst instead of giving the company a chance to clarify.

    That said, I’m really glad that people noticed this. It was a mistake that the Terms of Service had that language, and I’m glad that we’ll be removing it.

  37. Here’s someone who phrased it well at TapTheHive by saying “So you can call this conspiracy theories or a mistake if you want, but I’d rather think of it as misunderstanding between what we were reading and what Google was trying to say.”

    I regret that Google’s Terms of Service had this language. It’s hard to launch a completely new product, especially something as big as a web browser, without any kinks. Overall I think that Google did an excellent job on the launch, but not on this issue. Sorry for that, and thanks for giving us the chance to fix it.

  38. Thanks for making the effort – but you know as well as I do, that chrome is even better than tin foil for anti-alien head gear.

    You’ll never convince the “Google Gears Seen On Grassy Knoll” brigade.

  39. Matt,

    It will take more than excision of paragraph section 11 to take care of the issues with the Terms of Service. See


  40. Joe Hunkins, Seriously? The Chrome “datastream” (whatever that is) will be processed just like any other web browser. You make a request to a server somewhere, you get a response back. All the communication goes through your ISP. Matt has already outlined the ways the browser communicates with google, and it isn’t much different from other browsers (opt in crash reports, malware and phishing blacklists, etc). As for transparency,, go over the source and build it yourself to make sure google isn’t monitoring your browser history.

  41. Hi Matt,

    Im guy that left comments on ReadWriteWeb and I really do think that Chrome is fantastic – however studying the whole tech/legal thing is my real passion and after reading the EULA – I really felt that RRW needed to know about it.

    It’s great that you have proactively engaged with your user base and fixed this – it really was a bit erronous to expect users to sign an agreement such as this.

    Anyway – apologies, didnt realise it was going to cause such a firestorm but its great you have fixed it.


  42. Hi Matt

    In my company we have a saying that goes something like this:

    “Never judge people on the mistakes they make but on their will to fix them!”. I guess Google shows good will here – and so do you! Respect!


  43. Hello Matt,
    you looks to be really open-mind and open-people google guy ๐Ÿ˜‰

    “Google Chrome is open-soruce.” Does it mean, that whole source from which was build Google Chrome is open-source?

    Has binary version of Google Chrome same source as Chromium and nothing else?

    Btw. Big thanks for your latest posts. Google people should do same “sunlight” more often.

    Keep making “sunlight” everywhere, because Google is starting to be really big and to be fully transparent is only way how to not make people ultra-paranoid of Google.

  44. When my wife brought up this problem last night, I was pretty sure that you guys would fix it; I’m glad my faith in Google has been fulfilled again. Are you personally responsible? If so, thank you very much.

    Are you going to take that same ugly clause 11 out of the Google Gears license? I objected semi-privately to this when Gears came out, but I got a lot of pushback telling me I was complaining needlessly, so I didn’t say anything.

    In general, it doesn’t seem to me like Google (or anyone else) ought to be attaching “terms of service” to things while claiming they’re “open source”. The point of open source is that the users have a certain set of freedoms, which include the ability to copy the software, to use it for any purpose, and so on. If an EULA or TOS takes those freedoms away, then the software isn’t really open-source, and it dilutes the meaning of “open source” to use it for such things.

    Maybe it would be better to say, “Chrome is not open-source, but if you want, you can compile an identical open-source browser from the Chrome source.”? That seems confusing, but less confusing than the current situation, where people are going to think that “open source” just means that the source code is available.

  45. Matt, the issue is not the intentions Google has at the time of the writing. Google may be a very different Google in five, ten years from now (And the Patriot Acted Google today on which we have no information, of course). That’s the Google I’m mostly worried about. And frankly none of Googles legalize gives me the incentive to trust you, not the ToS of the different service and not the privacy policy which leaves this EU citizen in doubt, how he can enforce his save harbour rights. Because … frankly you’re a nice person and everything you say is certainly true โ€“ but nothing of it does matter in a court of law. If I’m signing up for a Google Service I’m signing a contract. Contracts are important. Contracts give the to parties trust that the agreement will be uphold. Contracts define trust. And Google’s are lacking in that department.

    For me that’s an enigma. Google seems go great length to attract great developers and certainly get a lot of great A-list developers. But in terms of ToS & international privacy law it seems to get only D-List lawyers (and D-List logo designers …) and upper management doesn’t seem to be bothered by this โ€“ which should be their job. Contracts are important. Sometimes more important than code.

    Just to prevent it: IANAL ๐Ÿ˜‰

  46. spamhound,
    Press and hold down the mouse button on “Back” to see previously visited pages.

    As for the EULA: I think I speak on behalf of many-many people when I say: I had a huge problem with Section 11, but now that it is bein removed, now that is an ever greater reason for me to keep on ranting about evil Google!
    *grins sarcastically*

  47. “Are you personally responsible?” Not at all, Kragen Javier Sitaker. At best I’m the messenger that pings people, but other Googlers did all the actual work. ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess even an open-source project needs a license to protect everyone involved.

    “Has binary version of Google Chrome same source as Chromium and nothing else?”

    I believe that’s the case, Martin, and I hope a Chrome person will correct me if I’m wrong.

  48. Matt,

    Much appreciated, that clarification.

    To those that would cling to the conspiracy theory, the statement from Chrome’s counsel is admissible in court, and the big G knows this. Any attempt by them to assert IPR over user content would be instantaneously exterminated by that statement.

  49. ReadWriteWebMan, thanks for stopping by. In the end we’re going to end up with better Terms of Service.

    Roger Jennings, thanks for stopping by to mention that link. I’ll be happy to point the Chrome team to it and ask if there’s anything we can do to clarify or other actions that would help with those points.

  50. Alright, Iโ€™ve got another conspiracy theory misconception to dispel.

    Trust me, Matt. You are only fanning the flames.

  51. >> Either Company X clarifies with a statement or changes the Terms of >> Service to make it clear–that wasnโ€™t the intent.

    Matt, I’m a huge Google fan and for the most part I defend Google as one of the most well intentioned companies out there.

    However, I think your dismissive attitude in this case only serves to hurt your cause.

    ToS and contracts don’t really care about “intentions” and they are almost always written with one purpose–the worst case scenario. When everyone’s happy, they are an afterthought, but should something end up in court, that happy-go-lucky attitude means squat and what’s in writing is all that matters.

    You expect people to just shrug it off because Google (supposedly) put ultra encompassing, over-arching terms in their legalese and assume it’s not *really* what you meant? That’s an assumption only a fool would make.

    If Google really believes everyone should just ignore the terms of service and assume the best, then why have them at all? Why don’t they write ToS that drop the menacing legaleze and say “just use our products and respect your fellow man”?
    Ha! Because your lawyers don’t share this happy-go-lucky attitude you seem to think the world should adopt (except Google).
    Lawyers will always default to asking for the moon and negotiate from there.

    And that’s just what happened, isn’t it? Google asked for the moon (supposedly out of laziness, but who can be sure) and got caught. There was an uproar, so now they’re looking into softening their position.

    Sorry Matt, I love what you’ve done with Chrome, I respect you and your work, and I want to defend you when I can, but in this case you’re either drunk on the kool-aid or very, very naive.

  52. Oops forgot to add:
    You and your merry band of engineers may be some of the most generous, community minded folks on God’s green earth, but your attorneys are not (and are not paid to be).

    If you need any evidence of that, just check out the case against the German owner of–one of the most blatant shows of corporate bullying and kicking the little guy I have ever witnessed. I was truly shocked that Larry and Sergey didn’t put a stop to that PR nightmare.

  53. Matt thanks for the clarification.

    But just so you know – I’m not using Chrome until I actually see the EULA clarification. I want to see what you actually come up with.

    An explanation like “some of our lawyers got a bit overexcited” or “people are mis-reading the legalities of what this actually means” I might believe

    But something like “Woops, guess we didn’t check that properly” doesn’t scan very well. Surely more than one person was asked to look over the EULA for a product as big as Chrome – right? I have never worked at a place where anything even remotely legal doesn’t immediately set off a chain reaction of ‘oh shit, we better get this checked out by the relevant people, make sure its signed off’. So it wasn’t just an ‘oversight’. Someone decided this was OK.

    The real thing is – people out here are naturally suspicious of a company the size of Google. Hopefully the reaction ‘out here’ helps the people trying to do good ‘in there’ keep the company true to its mission.

    There is a real concern that Chrome is some sort giant Google Analytics on Steroids thing. Maybe not, but I want to see the changes before I can use this thing.

    Technically, though, I love, love, love what I’ve heard/read about the product itself and offer my congratulations to the team.

  54. “in this case youโ€™re either drunk on the kool-aid or very, very naive.”

    Having watched the Chrome team over the last several months, I am quite sure that no “let’s see if we can slip this into the TOS” was intended. But at any rate, I’m glad that Google has already changed the Chrome EULA to read:

    11. Content license from you

    11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

    so that anyone knows they’re free to surf the web using Chrome without these concerns.

  55. Note that this implies that Google feels they can retroactively change any contract they have with any user at any time without any notice.

    Is this a particularly good thing?

  56. Matt,

    You misunderstood me.

    I’m not suggesting anyone started this project with the intention of stealing anyone’s content. I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

    What I’m saying is that expecting people to not be concerned and throw caution to the wind when asked to accept contract language that is very, very overreaching just because it was probably a mistake is naive. It is perfectly reasonable for people to react badly to such a glaring oversight. Yes, you were there with the team and have insider knowledge–the rest of the world only knows what’s in the contract language before them (and it’s scary).

    How many times does this happen before companies start checking their EULAs? You didn’t forget to add it in there, how did you forget to run it by the sanity test?

    An even better question might be: Why is such ridiculous language the default in the first place? You don’t have an “irrevocable right” to modify or distribute my content and what would make you think you do?

    The only thing I could think of was that they took this ToS from either Picassa or Adwords, but any lawyer that thinks one ToS will cover those two plus a browser without modification is getting paid WAY too much for their services.

    I applaud you personally taking this issue head on Matt, but for goodness sake, that type of sloppiness really makes folks wonder what else was overlooked. (and causes plenty more to think it wasn’t an oversight at all).

  57. Apart from the circular references, one problem with this definition is that it does not distinguish between content a user receives via the use of Google products and services as distinct from content a user creates via the use of Google products and services. Yet a user’s rights (and Google’s rights) to content received by a user could be expected to vary tremendously from rights to content created by a user.

    The terms “certain Services” and “those Services” are vague. How could one possibly draw a clear line between these various categories of unnamed Services and know what rights are being given to Google and applicable to which Content under which Service?

    When the same language is lifted wholesale from master terms and inserted into the terms for “certain Services” how is one to know whether the terms for the “certain Services” differs from the master terms?

    11. Content licence from you

    11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

    11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

    11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

    11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence.

  58. Matt, can you explain to me why Google has implemented a stealth mode that leaves no trace on the Machine of the sites that have been visited?

    I saw in Google comic book story on Chrome that is for uses such as buying a surprise Birthday gift etc. Do you really think that paedophiles will NOT use this to prevent being caught by a Family members and friends etc?

    Is it just me that believes; having a right to do something does not make one right in doing so?

    Is it just me that believes; 1 million+ Birthday surprises ruined is much better than one child’s life ruined?

  59. I hope people can be honest about reading my post and answering the questions I have at the end. I understand that google makes it money through advertising and that by monitoring our surfing habits they are able to offer more targeted ads that allow them to be more profitable. My google account seems like the best way that google is able to build a profile about me and what type of consumer I might be. I also know that google can collect information about me and associate it with my ip address but this seems like more temporary collection of information as my ip address can change and I may not be the only person who uses the computer from a particular ip address. My google account contains all my email since 2004 (GMAIL), my search and entire web history for at least the last 3 years (WEB HISTORY), and a listing of all the locations I’m interested in or need to know how to get to (MAPS). They may (or may not, not sure) have my entire chat history for the last 2 years (TALK). They also have my entire picture collection uploaded to Picasa although I’m not sure how they can use images to learn more about what kind of consumer I am (yet).

    Their ability to collect this information and associate it with me over the course of months and years hinges on me being logged into my google account throughout the day (especially web history). Over the last few years, I couldn’t help but notice serious efforts to make this a reality. One clear effort was the igoogle home page. Another was the addition of the gchat module on the left side of my email. Another was the toolbar that was added to the top of my account whenever I log in to gmail. As google continues to create more products, I can’t help but feel that their impressive efforts to develop great products will pay off in dividends when individuals stay logged into their accounts for a more substantial part of the day. This allows google to learn more about their surfing habits. As technology improves, the ability to aggregate this information into a meaningful profile will only improve as well.

    To this end, I can’t help but feel that Chrome (which is a wonderful piece of work) was created in part to keep me logged in for a more substantial part of my day. Is this true? Are there any practical reasons that using Chrome might make me more likely to stay logged in to my account than Firefox or IE might (like the application shortcuts)? Are there any more subversive reasons (like the fact that chrome automatically associates with my account and maintains that link in a more substantial or permanent way than other browsers might)?

    Another question I have is regarding disabling web history in my account. When I disable this feature, does that mean that google will no longer collect that information and associate it with my account or does it simply mean that google will not offer me access to that information through my account?

    Thanks for any comments that people might be able to offer.

    -every email that I store in email is associated with my username and is scanned (by bots of course) in order to send me targeted ads. This is clearly true on a per email basis, but do all the emails in my inbox as a whole contribute to a larger profile of what kind of consumer I might be? What about emails that I delete from my inbox or that are archived, do they contribute to my profile?

    -Google web history saves information about every site that I visit while I am logged into my google account. If I disable web history does that mean that the information about my surfing habits is not collected/stored at all or does that mean that while google continues to collect the information, that information won’t be readily available to me when I log into my account? Is this information linked to the profile of me that is created from my GMAIL account?

    -when I’m not logged into my google account, does google save information about the websites I like to visit? Does it store all the same information that web history does and associate it with my ip address or username or some other piece of information? How is this data used to deliver targeted advertisements?

    While it is nice to be able to go back and look at the sites and emails I have visited/received for the last 2 years, I don’t think that google’s motives for this service are only to help me remember where I’ve been. I suspect that this information helps them to build a profile of me so that they can deliver more targeted and successful advertisements.

  60. Travis Lane, I think that Google tries to re-use licensing terms to prevent an explosion of different licenses. It looks like might have been the source of that language.

    Dave (original), I know that this is something that many users have welcomed. IE8 independently is offering a similar browsing mode, so it’s evidently a popular request.

  61. Josh – you are naive to assume Google does so little with the search term data they explicitly say they have the right to collect. In Gmail, for example, some portion of your header is read by Google (probably just the title and not the content) so that ads can be targeted to you on those topics. Google Toolbar collects a lot of information and my understanding this helps target PPC advertisements though I’m not sure about that. As i noted I’m personally OK with this level of snooping, but I believe Google should make it much clearer what they do with the data they collect and probably also have options so users can delete any information they created – including their search streams – as they see fit.

  62. google chrome is great! and hopefully new tools will be added lately for the fast browser. the company is really dominating the web phase. hope this will be for the good as always.

  63. Matt, you remind of Politicians and their non response replies. So what you are saying is popularity overrules moral obligations. How does that fit in with Google’s motto of “do no evil”?

  64. Thank you for the clarification, Matt!
    It was an important one, not for me but for all those who misunderstood the original TOS. Them, and those who like to spread FUD as well (including a certain large software corporation, whose name is … *ahem* let’s not mention it, they have good lawers).

    As an open-source guy (longtime Linux and Mozilla Suite user), I’m really glad to see Google’s support to the open-source movement and to open standards. I’ll probably continue using Firefox, but I know that Chrome will certainly help move towards a more open and standard-compliant Web. I’m sure it is a well-designed product as well.


  65. Dave (original), lots of people legitimately want a private mode. It’s also useful if you want to juggle two different Google Accounts.

  66. Dave(original),
    I think what Matt is saying is that this tools is used by millions of people, almost all of whom are not pedophiles.

    Cars can be used in bank robberies and to run over people, but millions of people use them everyday for legit purposes. The remote possibility for misuse shouldn’t dominate the availability of a feature. I’m curious where you’re from–often this idea that the state/corporations should have such draconian controls is prevalent in countries that try to instill such paternalism. Americans tend to favor individual choice/responsibility even when it means some tools may be exploited by “bad apples”. Perhaps this explains your frustration.

    Regardless, there are literally dozens of tools that allow anonymous browsing, etc. so this will not make one bit of difference to the behavior of a pedophile.

  67. Could someone explain this:

    “5.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services through any automated means (including use of scripts or web crawlers) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Services.”

    If I read it out of context and very stricktly, then I understand I can’t access any services using any other browser once I have used Chrome for that. For example, if I have used Chrome for Gmail, after that I can only use Chrome for that.

  68. Can’t live without my FF extensions.

    I wonder how long it will be before they are re-written for Chrome?

  69. RE: The remote possibility for misuse shouldnโ€™t dominate the availability of a feature.

    “remote possibility”? Never mind what Country I come from, what Planet are you living on? Make no mistake, this new feature will be used by Millions daily to hide their sick fetishes and hundreds of innocent child will suffer daily due to it.

    RE: Cars can be used in bank robberies and to run over people, but millions of people use them everyday for legit purposes.

    Of course, nearly anything can be used for bad intent. However, implementing a feature that is desinged to hide footprints is the opposite. That is, the misuses will far outweigh the “legit” uses.

    Lets face it, the names being bandied around for these new features, “porn mode” etc have a real foundation.

    RE: Dave (original), lots of people legitimately want a private mode.

    I bet the sickos of this World want a private mode even more.

    I’m very dissapointed that Google didn’t take the Moral high ground on this.

  70. Matt, if Chrome is just a compiled version of Chromium like you say, what is the point of section 10.2 in the same EULA (no decompilation) ?

  71. Google say:

    “You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”

    But they then say in the very next sentence:

    “By submitting […] the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”

    That seems to be contradictory. If I own the rights to my Content, then surely Google would have to consult me if it wanted to use my content, distribute it, etc, in a royalty free manner.

    If I have rights over my content, why can’t I revoke it from Google. Google specifically say it is “un-revokable”. That seems highly unreasonable and almost monopolistic.

    Obviously I as the user have only been granted weak, nominal rights to my Content, and I do not have an exclusive copyright over the material I produce through Google Services. As an individual, that bothers me.

    To quote the UK news site, “Chrome’s terms of suck”

    As far as I’m concerned this is by no means a case closed, as Google’s senior counsel would have us believe. While Chrome’s TOS may not have any qualifying subsections, Google Services TOS does. The latter are terms an abrogation over the user’s rights to their content content.

    Secondly, Google Chrome may come under the jurisdiction of Google Services, so what happens then? Which TOS applies?

    In any case, Google’s monopolistic IP rights as defined in their General Terms of Service have to go. And no contradictory additional subsections please Google.

  72. “The terms include a section giving Google โ€œa perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.โ€ That seems pretty extreme for a browser, doesnโ€™t it?”

    Indeed, that part of the universal TOS certainly started a few (lot) of theories at work, which really didn’t help with my own theory that Google really, really isn’t evil. It kinda put my fight back a good year or so. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now, in ways of what I think of the browser:

    – Neg: Having to click too much to get to stuff I want to use on the browser.

    – Neg: When you have many tabs open, the top part of the browser gets covered, so if you want to minimise the browser slightly, or maximise, you have to go over to the top right and click the box and meh, if ya working over the left hand of the screen, that’s a long way to go each time!

    – Neg (for me): Yes, I am lazy.

    – Pro: Googley good for the average/below average net user.

    For now at least, I’ll be keeping with Firefox & Flock.

  73. Too little too late from google. They share information with the US government, the chinese government, my government in Australia, the British government, i could go on and on. I do not trust google to capture every single piece of data i submit in my browser, whether the EULA states i retain copyright or not. They do not need access to all this data and they have clearly gone from “don’t be evil” to becoming the thing you hate the most, they have lost sight of what google used to represent, and too much trust has been lost by this point. I have uninstalled google chrome and will not be re-installing it, all of you should do the same. Mozilla has never needed and would never try and implement such an insane amount of data capture that is returned to google in plain text unencrypted transmissions, so that any packet sniffer along the way can grab whatever it wants. Google has become evil, and it will take a lot more than a EULA change to restore my trust in them, for me this is the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

  74. I think the fast response to the ‘horror’ reaction to the original section 11 has been appreciated.

    I also think it would be really useful for Google to explain in plain English exactly what they do collect. A few less technical colleagues of mine were concerned that data entered through Chrome would be captured; i.e. online bank stuff, passwords etc….

    This may be obvious to Google but not necessarily to others…

  75. I say ‘well done’ for correcting this issue; Now one wants to sound like a patsy, but I think it’s honorable to openly correct a mistake where it has been made. As to whether cynics believe someone’s move towards integrity, well that’s a different issue – not everyone has the chance nor intent to see where their own path is.

  76. In Polish EULA section 11 remains unchanged.

  77. Rodrigo Rodrigues

    People nowadays are funny: want everything, complain abou everything, it seems nothing is good enough. C’mon. I can’t figure out Google, trying (trying?) to be the best IT company in the world, making, not by chance, such a bad move like this. For me, it was just one more lawyer-language mistake. Just that. No flames, no bigger problem.

    It remembers me the beginnig of GMail: “Oh, Google will go through your whole emails!”. Well… It’s been how many years since then? Say, you got a @gmail account, don’t you?

  78. Dave (original), if you could stop ranting and try to think about privacy as a basic human right, you could come up with other means for not wanting others to know what sites you visited.

  79. I am pleasantly surprised to see the alacrity with which Google responded to the conspiracy theorists.
    Google is growing BIG (and I mean really BIG) and has hands in almost every pie, be it through 20% projects or otherwise. Sooner or later it is going to create fear and uncertainty in small software companies as was in the “glorious” days of Microsoft. Add to it that your main product – web search engine often arbitrates sites in unfathomable ways (unless you are one of the lucky few who has direct access to you or few of your colleagues on the web). I really wish Google search becomes more open about its policies and communicates (today communication is only uni-directional which is sad) and not rely upon security (of its algorithm) through obscurity but actually designs better algorithm to solve the problems.

  80. “Themes – When will we see them.”

    Robert MacEwan, check out these link:

    Looks like people are already starting to work on themes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  81. Mori, thanks for mentioning that, so we we can move toward making them consistent.

    Joe Mac, section 11 has already been updated. Please see the bottom of this post for the new shorter, simpler language.

    “I do not trust google to capture every single piece of data i submit in my browser, whether the EULA states i retain copyright or not.”

    Mordd, because the browser has been released under an open-source BSD license, you or anyone else can verify that Google doesn’t do this. If that’s too much trouble, you could sniff your net connection to verify that Chrome isn’t sending anything nefarious to Google. If you’d like to read more about the communication between Chrome and Google, I wrote an entire blog post about exactly that:

    Duncan, you might be interested in that post as well. Google Chrome will help you remember passwords (just like any other modern browser), but it does so locally and doesn’t send that info to Google.

  82. Updating the terms of service is good. Updating the date whenever changing the terms of service would also be good. It still says August 15, 2008, so somebody glancing would assume they hasn’t changed and they don’t need to reread.

  83. Hey Matt; So you want to have your very own personal blog, do you? ๐Ÿ˜€ I highly doubt it matters at all what you say in here or what Google says about things. People will always look to find the evil anywhere they can. LOL You are doing a very good job with all the issues however. I sometimes just don’t believe it matters to many industry types. Heck; ten people were involved with the JFK shooting, don’t ya know? And George Bush knew all about 09-11-01 before it happened…..

  84. Hi Matt,
    it’s nice to see the EULA in english is changed. The german version isn’t –>

  85. Matt, google has other pending problems than the TOS gaffe (which would never pass the test of law when push comes to shove). The top two are:

    1) Its Non Stop Call Home features.

    If Chrome gets widely adopted (and I’m sure it will), people are going to stop this, so Chrome (and Google) needs to stop depending on it.

    2) Its NO turning off of JavaScript

    Again, people are going to want to STOP javascriptnig from running on many sites. You can’t FORCE it on people and Google is going to have its hands full with liability issues when user harm is a direct cause of GOOGLE being negligent. It would be considered MAL-PRACTICE.

    3) No controls over cookies, its OFF or ON

    Similarily, you need a white list like other browsers off. Which brings me to the CALL HOME feature. What is it doing? If a user has COOKIES disabled, is CHROME capturing incoming site set-cookies and sending it to GOOGLE data banks via its call homes?

    If Google does not want conspirary theorys, then this has be address. You can’t just not make this features burned in code without user preferences.

    I like Chrome. It makes our intranet web server dynamic html clients look “good”. We want to recommend it to our our customers. But I don’t want this constant thorn on my side regarding this in your face, take control of users pc and information without user options mindset. Google will not win here. No one has, and quite franky, in my opinion, Google has already won – Don’t blow it with Chrome locked in undesirable features!

    Hector Santos/CTO
    Santronics Software, Inc.

  86. The Polish version of EULA has now been changed. Thanks Matt!

  87. To all those who seem to jump on the problem of private mode browsing – Sandboxing is not new, nor does it require your browsing to offer it. Running your browser in a virtual machine, or in a sanbox utility does exactly the same. Delete the VM, or shut down the sandbox utility, and everything you did in it is gone. Perhaps Google and Microsoft make things a bit easier for the unexperienced would-be criminal, but to pretend this mode is going to make it that much harder to catch people underestimate the real world. Traffic is logged not just at the sender and the receiver, it’s logged at every hop from pedofile to kiddy, and people aren’t caught because their computer was found, they’re caught because they’re being actively hunted for by people whose job it is to catch them. Sandboxing being available inside a browser, as opposed to having been available already for years through VM and sandbox utilities, is not going to make that harder for them.

    Just because you didn’t know sandboxing has been around since pretty much the invention of multi-layered operating systems doesn’t mean the criminals were just as unaware of this as you. They know more about how to hide their tracks because they need to: this feature will affect them the least of everyone who might use it. Running Chrome in privacy mode, inside a sandbox utility, inside a VM, is really not going to make a difference compared to running any browser inside a sandbox utility inside a VM. Nothing changed for the criminals, it just makes life easier for people who don’t like their browsing history revealed to their wife, husband, brother, sister, coworker, fellow students, etc. etc.

  88. Hi Matt,
    My 7 year old daughter suggested to me the other day that Google should fix Google maps. I asked her what is wrong with it.
    She said that when you print a map out in black and white you cannot see the route clearly . When you print it in color there is no problem.
    She says that those clever Google engineers should make the route a dotted line so it does not matter if you print it out in black and white.
    Sounds simple to me.
    How’s about it Matt.

  89. Thanks for the clarification Matt – we can now all sleep easy in our beds.

  90. German Focus in their current print magazine write that Google “quietly” changed their EULA after protests. Guess they don’t read blogs ๐Ÿ™‚

  91. I just went to the terms of use for Picasa Web Albums and noticed that there might be a similar problem to Google Chrome.
    Your paragraph has the standard boilerplate:
    11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.
    For Picasa Web, there are no additional terms, as far as I can tell (unlike Google Docs). Therefore, once I publish the photos to Google, I’m granting them free license forever on the photos I upload to Picasa Web. As I presume from your posts on Google Chrome’s agreement that Google does not want to distribute my personal photos, why aren’t there additional terms for Picasa Web?
    As an aside, I was using Adobe Photoshop Express the other day and noticed that they have a license agreement that discusses their right to use your photos and it is in plain English.
    , in particular paragraph six.
    In addition, although a user allows Adobe to distribute their photos, this license can be revoked by blocking the photos from public view on Photoshop Express. I think Google could learn from Adobe on this.

  92. Again: could anyone tell me why section 10.2 is useful for an open source project?

  93. In fairness to Google, I must reply to Stonehead’s question. Check the very first paragraph of the TOS. It says, “These Terms of Service apply to the executable code version of Google Chrome. Source code for Google Chrome is available free of charge under open source software license agreements at” This statement satisfies the “in writing” condition in Paragraph 10.2.

    Now, why they forbid you to decompile the application built from the source code that they freely give you, that is a very different question…

  94. Although they’ve changed the EULA for Chrome, that nasty condition is still there for google mail, for example. Really, it should be expunged completely from any and all EULA.

    Unless “do no evil” really is just a smokescreen to create a benign air.

  95. LOL this seem’s like a liberal terms of use, i’m un downloading my chrome.

    Sure, they have modified their terms of use, but you still can’t even disable your history! History is useless for me, wasted space on my hard drive.
    Their settings only let you control so little, it’s horrible! I just got it and I can’t modify crap! They really DO want control of what your viewing.

  96. Any news on an OS X version of Chrome? I’ve used the unofficial version, but it’s just a tad buggy. And by a tad, I mean very buggy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Firefox, Safari, Flock – all cross-platform. Chrome? Anybody?

  97. Thanks for the info. It will be interesting to see how much chromes populrity increases over time.

  98. I guess I’m a little late to the game with regards to Google Chrome, but now that I’ve tried it, I love it! Another nail in the coffin for IE and it’s broken code and wanton disregard for standards. (I hope)

  99. After reading the Chrome terms of use, I wasn’t able to sleep for few months.

    Reading this post now I sleep better and longer..

    Thanks for that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  100. I know I’m late, but I have to say, Matt did quite well in this article. He brought the issue into the open and explained the situation thoroughly. At the same time, many people posting in these comments have already made up their minds when it comes to google. To matter what Matt says, they are entirely convinced that Google has some grudge against them and secretly wants to steal their data, log their location and kick puppies.

    Your information is stored no matter what you use to browse the web. Your ISP stores everything you do, and this can be accessed by any federal bureau. That is not surprising. As far as browsers go, all of them log your information and usage patterns. IE, Chrome, Mozilla. Mozilla has you even accept its license where you allow them to save and control your personal data. To keep it short, no matter what you use to get online, everything you do is kept somewhere.

    The good news? No company really cares about you (on the web, I mean!). The lone office clerk in San Diego doesn’t matter much to a corporation, nor does the waitress in a rural restaurant in Atlanta. They aren’t going to come to your home, kick down your door, and browse through everything you do while pointing their accusatory fingers at you. Now in some instances, if you are involved in piracy or other illegal e-activities, you can be targeted. But if that happens, you will be target no matter what browser or ISP you use (all they need is your ISP, and then they simply grab your cpu ID).

    Bottom line, I’m happy that Google changed the TOS. We can all complain that “oh, now they can dismiss their EULA” or “they are unreliable” (despite the fact that they are able to change their EULA at any time without warning, as indicated in pretty much every TOS). What matters is they fixed it, and they are healthily maintaining a great tool for many to use. If you don’t care for it, that’s understandable, but I’m sure more people are willing to give Chrome a chance now that the terms were changed.

  101. Biggest flaw of your analysis from my point of view: you assume that every unique visitor of Google apps is a “user”, as opposed to an “evaluator” or simply a “vistor”. You make no attempt to differentiate between the two. However, the compete data you cited said the average length of a visit to the Google apps site was 2 minutes. 2 minutes! Clearly, there are far more folks landing on the site for 10 seconds than are actually doing real work with the online apps. Given this, I think the estimates in the range of 1% are more accurate.

  102. i try to install theme firefox liscence under google, now i cant even load google page cause it says that the im using a un-liscenced theme, so is it a joke, no viruses or errors were found on my pc, did everthing delete all files and install new ones, same problem, any idean how to solve this problem please, cause thats desapointing,

  103. Thank you for this clarification, and perhaps getting Google to re-define and correct this issue. I have put off using chrome for this very reason. I am going to download and install GC today and I hope it is as good as everyone says!
    Ariana B.