It turns out that Google's Chrome, like Google's Apps, started life with the same ridiculous EULA, the one that gives GOOG the right to use any content you send to Chrome (and Apps as well) in any way that Google sees fit. They generously allowed you to retain the copyright on your content, just as long as you didn't care if Google used it for its marketing, promotional, or other (hedging operations?) needs as it saw fit. Such a deal.
GOOG has since "amended" its EULA, claiming that they made a mistake when they took a boilerplate EULA and grafted it on to the Chrome EULA. I'm not sure that really excuses them: their boilerplate EULA is such a non-starter for anyone with the slightest concern for security and privacy that it shouldn't be the default for anything any vendor does with its customers' content. Period.
My colleague Dennis Howlett has blogged on this issue sufficiently for me to do no more than agree with his assertion that the last minute change doesn't change that much. Fundamentally, I think Google is either being stupid or malicious: either way they've got to more to protect their user's content. I'm sure the folks at GOOG are thinking that surrendering users' rights is a fair price for a free service, and I guess in their own stupid or malicious way they are right (either stupidly or maliciously so.)
Which brings me back to another point: it's time to end the rule of "free" on the Web and start thinking about whether there's a value in paying for good and services, and thereby, as the payee, retaining some legitimate control over what you do and what is done to you. I wrote a piece here about my recent problems with Craiglist, and I think this latest nonsense from GOOG is further proof that you get what you pay for -- and if the loss of privacy and security are the price of free, I'm ready to pay for my Web-based services. The alternative is to let GOOG and others like it do what they want under the guise of providing nominally useful free services.
You get what you pay for on the Web. And it's time to start paying.