Google inadvertently posted a PowerPoint presentation by CEO Eric Schmidt on its Web site, where bloggers who follow the company’s doings promptly discovered it and then broadcast the information across the Internet.
Google has since removed the slides, but details about the internal document are still circulating. According to the slides, it appears as though Google is preparing to offer unlimited online storage space for users’ desktop data.
This data includes just about any content generated on a personal computer, including e-mail, Web search history, photos, blogs and bookmarks.
Earlier this year, Google released a desktop tool that offered something similar but on a far smaller scale.
While useful for those who want a temporary vault to hold information they want to transfer to another computer, there’s a rub: Google’s servers store the data for only 30 days.
The plans Schmidt apparently outlined are far headier.
“Google is an incredibly ambitious company, and it sees the cost of storage going down,” Greg Sterling, a search engine analyst for the Kelsey Group, told TechNewsWorld.
“They see an opportunity to house people’s content on their servers, giving users access to that content from any browser. They see themselves, in a certain way, as the network and the PC as an entry point,” he explained.
When Google released the details about its desktop search tool, privacy advocates were alarmed.
It did not help matters that Google then revealed that its search data had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department after it refused to hand over the information the government was seeking.
Not only could this information be hacked — a longstanding concern — but now, apparently, it might be subpoenaed as well.
“The flap about NSA trying to subpoena search logs and records, and the negative PR which resulted — plus a renewed interest in privacy online — will make this new plan a difficult proposition to sell to the public,” Sterling said. “Google would have to go to extraordinary lengths to reassure the public that their data was secure and private.”
All or Nothing?
It is important not to think in extremes, though, Sterling cautioned. “This is not an all or nothing proposition: Google stores everything or it stores nothing.”
For instance, with the desktop tool, a user is able to specify the data to be indexed and stored on Google’s servers.
Google might be able to introduce its online storage service on a smaller scale if the security measures are well highlighted, Sterling said.
“If it weren’t for that aspect, this would be a very useful tool for many Internet users,” he conceded.