If you are bowled over by this article’s title, believe us, we are not exaggerating. The Terms of Service that Comcast adheres to, for the Xfinity Internet Service it provides, mention specifically the right that agents, affiliates and suppliers have to reproduce, distribute, publish and display the content all around the globe. The company even allows third parties to copy, use, republish and distribute the content posted or distributed using Xfinity Internet.
You may note that the definition of such content does not have any restrictions and applies to any information that an individual or an employee might have sent using the service. Such kind of broad terms of definition that Comcast has used in its Terms of Service are a huge matter of concern according to Randy Abrams, who is an independent security analyst. He further has added that with these ISPs there is practically no limitation or controls in place to protect the privacy of users.
However the spokesperson Jenni Moyer has reportedly stated that their company is not taking the user’s’ content. She has added that their Residential Services Agreement that the users sign has updated terms and conditions which makes them authorized by the user to transmit information wherever they need to as the company is acting as intermediary.
Though as we said it is not only Comcast that can do it. The Terms of Service that Google has gives it as well as all the third parties that are associated with it the license to use, store, reproduce, improve, create modified/derivative works, host, publish, display, distribute and perform all the content that the users have uploaded, sent, stored, submitted or even received through the Google services. What’s more – a user might even stop using such services, but even then these rights would be applied to operate, market and enhance services that Google presently provides as well as creating newer ones.
However all is not lost as Google and Comcast have some difference in their approaches regarding this matter. You may note that as a user you can use some methods that few services by Google provide to access as well as delete content that you might have provided to them. You may even use some settings in place to reduce the wide range of these terms of service and narrowing the availability of content. It is highly suggested that everyone uses such settings and ways around the limitations. After some research, you might even realize that Google services are not the end of the world as there are plenty of other options to conduct searches and send emails.
Another analyst Rob Enderle who is the principal analyst at the Enderle Group has clearly stated that Comcast and Google have used such Terms of Service that their entire existence seems to implicate that these companies are free to use and repurpose the information that you might have stored with them. The construct of these Terms of Service and the words used are clearly suggestive that these companies are practically the owners of whatever content a user sends through them – which might seem a big issue once defending intellectual property rights comes in the scene. In fact, a user might encrypt the data or content they are sending across in order to protect it, but these companies still have the rights on this encrypted data if they have any proof of their services being used to store or send this data.
We might argue this case saying that almost nobody in the tech world is not doing this (or something like this under a different play of words). A company like Facebook has also asked its users to provide it a non exclusive yet transferable, royalty free and sub licensable license to use any content (photos/videos), they might have shared on Facebook, all around the globe. Deleting your IP content or your account would obviously terminate this license, however if your content has been shared with others who have not yet removed it, this becomes messier. Though experts have expressed their concerns on the validity of such licenses and contracts as courts in the U.S. might not even defend such positions given the extremely one sidedness of their terms. But any which way, this is an incredible threat to privacy as well as intellectual property rights.
Let us know in the comments below how you feel about this ‘normalized’ way of conducting things in the tech world.