The Google Photos service is undoubtedly one of Google's best products, but it also serves as a trap for those who use it extensively.
Below we will examine the product to see if it is worth it and what happens with privacy.
Having enough space in the Cloud to store your photos may seem like a common thing at the moment, but there was a time when it wasn't at all common. The Google Photos service started working as part of another Google+ product, the company's social network that stopped working this year.
Google has considered 2015 to offer a photo storage as a single product.
For those who aren't bothered by the terms and conditions, services like Google Photos are fantastic. But your data is stored online and you trust a company to take care of your photos.
If you had to give your real photos to someone else to take care of, you would find it difficult to do so. But photos from your mobile are uploaded to Google Cloud without a second thought.
Although Google Photos is a relatively new service, the parent company and many other services have been around for a long time.
From time to time, various incidents, rumors, myths and half-truths have been heard. Below we will try to look more closely at the Google Photos service to determine what is real and what is not.
The biggest problem, as with any online service, is privacy. But when we talk about photos we are talking about much more personal data.
By default, images stored in the cloud are not available to anyone else unless you decide to share them with others.
Many years ago, the Google Terms of Service were very different, and when Google+ was still there, a paragraph in the terms seemed very worrying.
11.1 You retain the copyrights and any other rights you already have to the Content you submit, publish or display through the Services. By submitting, publishing, or displaying the Content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly display, display and distribute the content you submit, publish or service us. This license is for the sole purpose of allowing Google to view, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked by certain Services as set forth in these Additional Terms of Service.
11.2 You agree that this License includes the right of Google to make this Content available to other companies, organizations, or individuals with which Google has a relationship with and to use such Content in connection with the provision of such Content of the services.
11.3 You understand that Google, when performing the technical steps required to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content on various public networks and media. and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to comply with and adapt this Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services, or media. You agree that this license will allow Google to take these actions.
Google's Terms of Service have changed significantly. The latest update is dated 22 January of 2019 and the above paragraphs no longer exist. As you will see they were replaced with a paragraph in a much easier wording that does not require the intervention of a lawyer.
Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send and receive content. You retain ownership of any copyright that you own to this content. In short, whatever belongs to you remains yours.
When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content through our Services or through our Services, you grant Google (and those with whom it works) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as resulting from translations, adaptations, or other changes we make to your content in order to work better with our Services), communication, publishing, public performance, publicity, and distribution such content. The rights you grant to this license are granted for the specific purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, as well as for the development of new Services. This license is still valid even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).
Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content provided to those Services. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that limit the scope of use of the content submitted to those Services. Please make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us permission to use any content you submit to our Services.
The problem is that no one knows what Google is doing with your photos. We know that there is an automated assistant that scans your images for data and uses all the embedded information. It's a little scary, but it's also very useful if you are looking to find a picture amongst many others.
For example, you can search for the word car, and you will only have pictures showing cars.
Google Photos: The legend
However, can Google use your photos for purposes other than those listed in the terms of service?
It is a huge responsibility and surely the company will face problems if some private images end up in public without the consent of the user.
The over 1,2 billions of images uploaded daily to the company probably show us that the company is taking care of something that will expose it and cause users to lose confidence.
But the point that "you give Google (and those with whom it works with) a worldwide license to host, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works" is somewhat obscure.
In a nutshell: Google will not share public photos of its own accord (see hacking), but may share files and information with third parties.
Another issue that concerns anyone who wants to leave Google Photos and the Google ecosystem in general. Imagine wanting to leave Google Photos for another platform and trying to delete the photos from the service without having to close your account.
Imagine that over the years you have uploaded thousands of photos to the service. Try now to manually delete your files. Google does not encourage this behavior.
It is very likely that your photos are stored on multiple servers and deleting activity can affect the business.
In any case, there are some limitations that are not mentioned anywhere. Even if you are a customer of the company that purchased additional space in Google Photos, you have the same restrictions.
The only prerequisites mentioned to users are the size of the photos uploaded to the service, which varies. For example, Google Pixel users can upload images and videos to their original quality by January 31.
However, it turns out that you can't have more than 20.000 images in a single album. So let's say you want to delete the images. Google allows you to delete up to 500 images at a time.
You can select more than 500, but you will see an error if you try to delete them.
If you have 100.000 images, you should do the same thing 200 times. Here's to mention that the limitation on deletion was 1000 photos, but decreased.
Now, let's say that you are finally dedicating the time it takes to delete all your photos, from 500 images at a time. Google doesn't like this, and after a few attempts, the delete function stops working for a while, sometimes for an hour, maybe longer.
This behavior is so annoying that many users have posted questions on the forum about this problem. Some report missing days trying to delete their photos. In July, Google Driver and Google Photos were separated, making managing your photos even harder.
Normally no one can say that Google does not allow anyone to leave the service and go to another company. But there are a whole host of problems that discourage the end user.
The bottom line is that Google Photos has no competition. There is no other service like this, even if you want to change. Google's service has some very useful features, not to mention the fact that they are constantly adding new ones.
Users who want to delete their images from the web will find it very difficult to do so. In any case, Google Photos is a service that can be very helpful if you don't care about the details above.
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