Is Google’s Auto-Backup an invasion of privacy?

Google Auto Backup

I can’t help but be a photographer even when I shoot on technologically inferior devices like smartphones or tablets, so photography and its processes are on my mind even when I take a mundane picture of my morning coffee for fun. I noticed that the fate of these images is not necessarily in my control after capturing them thanks to a service called Google Auto-Backup.

Until recently, whenever I took pictures on my phone or tablet, they immediately showed up in my online Google account. The service can be switched off, but as long as I’m logged in on my Google account the application has access to images on the device, which means it’s hard to be sure that it won’t be subject to abuse. It should always be the consumer who makes the decision to upload their digital images on the internet and having a provider do that without the users’ consent is probably not insignificant.

Given the still ongoing series of revelations by the Guardian on mass surveillance by the NSA, Google’s Auto-Backup service seemed like yet another case of unauthorised access to personal information by a third party. While we voluntarily sign up for Google to use their services, Auto-Backup was added at a later point without consent from the subscribers. Photographs going online in any shape or form will inevitably be more vulnerable to theft and this would imply various copyright issues as well. Would Google be responsible for stolen images from a hacked account? Adding a service that concerns issues of privacy with such implications might be something that requires more thought before action. In this case, it would be a reasonable measure for Google to ask its subscribers to sign up for the Auto-Backup service separately if they want to save their images using Google’s online storage space.

~ by arpadlukacs on August 25, 2013.

One Response to “Is Google’s Auto-Backup an invasion of privacy?”

  1. This is a serious issue and i have been struggling without any success to contact google to assist me in turning off auto back up and to delete all images that they have stored on their system of me. If anyone out there has ideas or suggestions, please please contact me on email…brob700@gmail.com.. I do not have àaccount. And the twitter account that i have i hardly know how to use it so i have never been there much. I only have linkedin. Please help anyone reading this comment.

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