Tossed all your snaps into the new Google Photos? You read the terms, right? ... RIGHT?

Ad giant can turn everyone into ads – a friendly reminder


Netizens who have been scrambling to upload their photo libraries into Google's new cloud-hosted Photos service could find themselves sharing more than they wanted to with the Mountain View advertising giant.

A clause in the Google Terms of Service notes that The Chocolate Factory reserves the rights to use anything you decided to toss into its servers for marketing and other stuff.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.

Google drew no shortage of glowing coverage and fawning reviews in the release of new Photos apps and unlimited photo storage. But the sting in the tail may put off some users.

Google is going to allow users to push massive collections of their pictures onto the service; a service it charges for if you want, say, 1TB of space to store hi-res snaps. Pictures that, according to the terms of service, could also allow them to be used by Google for "promoting and improving" its multibillion-dollar operations.

So, does that mean your beach pics from last summer could soon be gracing a Google billboard or ad spread somewhere? El Reg asked the web goliath to clarify on how its policy would apply to the new Photos, but we've yet to hear back at the time of publication. It must be said, the same T&Cs apply to other Google services, such as Gmail and Google Plus.

It's yet another reason to have a look at the terms and conditions of a service before you sign up, especially a service that wants to "organize your memories," as Anil Sabharwal, head of Google Photos, put it on Thursday. ®

Updated to add

A Google spokesperson got in touch with us after publication to say: "Google Photos will not use images or videos uploaded onto Google Photos commercially for any promotional purposes, unless we ask for the user's explicit permission."

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