27 August 2010

Google Voice - Did You Read The Fine Print?

Good Day fellow travellers on the planet Googlesphere.

Today we are looking at the new tool given to us from the munificence of the Party.

Wow Free Calls!

This is really cool. BB has really outdone himself this time. I immediately put a sell notice on all my telecom stocks and cancelled my order for Skype Stock for their impending IPO.

I tried using the service. Its pretty darn good.

But... after reading Mr Winston Smith's legal terms and conditions - I might just have a little concern about how I use it. (I am just not sure if this is before or after his little conversations with the party).

I draw your attention to several sections of the agreement that you must agree to before you can add the service. For example:

Google's Proprietary Rights

As between the parties, Google shall retain all right, title and interest to the telephone numbers used in connection with or provided as part of the Services.

I could be wrong but that did not specify which end of the conversation so you are granting to Google all rights to any call you make.

Google has the right to restrict calls or connections to any telephone numbers in its sole discretion. These may include, but are not limited to certain geographic locations, special services numbers, satellite telephony services, and other call forwarding services.

Now last time I checked the laws of the country and their instrument usually called a government has the sole right to restrict who I can speak to. In the USA there is this thing called Freedom of Speech. Quite a few people actually gave up their lives for this right.

This is in stark contrast to no such restriction by Google in who I can reach via their other forms of communication tool - one is called Google Chrome and its a web browser. I don't think Chrome can restrict which sites I can browse. The other is Gmail - I don't think Google has determined who I can and cannot send email to.... but wait they already know that so there is no worry there BB Eric is watching all of us - keystrokes and our actual private conversations.

The longest section of the terms and conditions for this "free" service is covered by the billing statement:

Bill Payment

Depending on the Google Voice service you sign up to, you may be required to pay fees in connection with the Services, as stated by Google. There may be additional fees if you request a change in any Services. Depending upon the level of Services selected by you, there may be charges for calls to or from certain locations, including without limitation payphones and areas within extended calling zones. There may also be applicable charges for any special or enhanced services you use.

Users may purchase prepaid credits to be used for Google Voice services. Google will be under no obligation to offer any refunds or reimbursements for the purchase price of such prepayments. Usage of minutes is billed in one minute increments. Prepaid credits are billed at the time of purchase.

Unless prohibited by law, any outbound calling credit that you have purchased will expire six (6) months from the most recent date of use, and may not be transferred.

... but perhaps I am just being a bit too paranoid today. But I think I am going to check the underside of my car........



Anonymous said...

Surely O'Brien would be a better 1984 character for you to cast in the role of Google henchman.

Winston Smith was, after all, attempting to fight against Big Brother but was lured into a trap by O'Brien who posed as a representative of a underground resistance movement.

Dan G.

Professor Sabena said...

Mr Smith was the good guy turned bad....