Sunday, November 17, 2013

Questions about the new Google Terms of Service and GAFE

As you may already be aware, Google has recently made some changes to the Terms of Service for their Consumer Services. These changes allow users' Google+ profile information (name, +1s, reviews, comments) to appear in "Shared Endorsements". While Google has separate Terms of Service that covers Google Apps for Education, those terms only cover the "core services" of Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sites and Vault. Non-core services like Google+, YouTube and Blogger are still covered under the Consumer Terms of Service.

I know that some districts and schools have been wondering if they should enable services like Google+ on their Google Apps for Education domains if it means that their users' information may appear in "Shared Endorsements" or even advertisements. That would be a shame because Google+ is such a terrific tool, especially considering the new Google Connected Classrooms initiative.

Rather than guess as to how the changes would impact schools and districts using Google Apps for Education, I contacted +Jordan Pedraza at Google directly to get clarification on the issue. Jordan emailed me back right away and here's what I found out:

  • The new "Shared Endorsements" feature of Google+ has NOT yet been enabled for Google Apps domains
  • When the "Shared Endorsements" feature is enabled for Google Apps domains, it will be OFF by default
  • Most importantly, domain administrators will also have options within the Admin Control Panel to prevent their end users from appearing in Shared Endorsements that Google displays as advertisements
So, Google is handling Google Apps accounts differently than consumer accounts and providing tools for organizations to prevent their users from appearing in ads. That being said, it's incredibly important for those of us managing Google Apps for Education services for our districts and schools to stay informed about any Terms of Service or Privacy Policy changes. It's also crucial to not be afraid to ask questions about any concerns you have or that are brought to your attention. In my own experience, I have found that whenever I have reached out to Google with a question or a concern, they have been very good about getting right back to me with information.

Thanks to +Vicki Davis for encouraging me to share this information with a wider audience.

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