A recent Slashdot post about Google Chrome’s Terms of Service (TOS), sometimes referred to as the even wonkier acronym, EULA (End-User License Agreement), raises a number of points about Chrome’s TOS and asks a couple of direct questions:
  • Does this mean that Google reserves the right to filter my web browsing experience in Chrome?
  • Is this a carry-over from the EULAs of Google's other services (gmail, blogger etc), or is this something more significant?
We read further into this piece through the comments and saw that many readers were able to accurately address these points – most of them better than we could ourselves – so we thought we might as well give them the credit they deserve.

On the question of “Is this a carry-over from the EULAs of Google's other services,” maxfresh responds: “It is obvious from section 1 of the same TOS that this is google's standard boilerplate TOS, or as they call it, their 'Universal Terms' that covers all of their services, including search, mail, adsense, adwords, blogger, etc...”

Maxfresh has it right here. This is the exact same language we use in many other Google Terms of Service. We are trying to be consistent across all of our products and services, hence the uniformity.

Regarding whether “Google reserves the right to filter my web browsing experience,” mariushm says, “It's probably just a safety measure for their anti-phishing features,” while Korin43 writes that it’s for “things like safe-search, phishing filter, and other options like blocking non-secure items on a secure webpage.” Another reader, fermion, notes, “it could be some malware protection mechanism in which users are not allowed to go to suspected malware sites without warning….”

mariushm, Korin43 and fermion are all correct. Google provides features such as Safe Browsing that warn you if you are about to go to a suspected phishing site, and we verify the URL you are planning to go to with a database of known phishing sites. Other relevant factors include the need for Google to comply with the law relating to your web-browsing experience, such as regulations against hate speech, child pornography and so on.

Maybe the most fitting context for all this is provided by acb: “In any case, it's open source (under the name Chromium [google.com]), so if you don't like Google's EULA, or any other part of their plans for Chrome, you will be able to download and run one of the third-party, de-Googlised builds of Chromium, or even build your own. It seems unlikely that Google would impose particularly unpalatable terms on Chrome, given that it comes with its own competition built in.”

Amen, acb. As an open-source browser, we believe Google Chrome stimulates innovation on the web, while at the time just making life easier for people. Thus far, we have millions of active users, and the response continues to be outstanding. Regardless, we appreciate the input from users around the world, and we think these kinds of open discussions are helpful, even if it’s to temper what !ahugedeal describes as follows: “This looks like FUD to me.”

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Posted by Gabriel Stricker, Director, Global Communications & Public Affairs