Dropbox sparks privacy scare with T&Cs

Tim Grey
5 July, 2011
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Dropbox users found themselves all in a tither earlier this week when the cloud storage company altered its terms and conditions in such a way that it was reasonable to assume the company was claiming the right to access, alter and distribute its customers information however it saw fit.

According to myce, the altered terms and conditions read:

“You grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service.”

The implication seemed to be that Dropbox could claim ownership of any files uploaded by those who’d opened an account on their service. Understandably, some users freaked out, with a number rushing to delete their account.

In response to the uproar, Dropbox quickly amended its terms and conditions to clarify its position, underscoring the fact that the company required the rights to copy, distribute and publicly display ‘your stuff’ in order to share media in public folders. Dropbox reiterated that it does not own the rights to your files:

“You retain ownership to your stuff. You are also solely responsible for your conduct, the content of your files and folders and your communications with others while using the Services. We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service. This licence is solely to enable us to technically administer, display and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.”

While Dropbox moved quickly to stem the outrage, the episode underlines the sometimes murky privacy and security implications that arise from our newfound life in the cloud.

3 Comments

3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Dylstra says:

    Well, I’m glad that’s sorted. It was making me nervous.

  2. Dan says:

    I’ve canceled my drop box account. Not just because of security reasons but once iCloud is out I will be using only iCloud.

  3. Leigh says:

    Even with the clarified terms and conditions,I don’t want to have to keep paying for extra storage. I found HomePipe as an alternative cloud computing software that doesn’t charge for needing to store more bytes. Also, I personally use HomePipe to stream my content because I don’t like taking the chance of downloading my content onto my mobile device or remote computers. It’s also nice that the company is transparent about its security. All this emerging news on security hacking poses too much of a risk to take chances.

    Cheers!

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