Institutions are switching to Gmail, but are they discussing the fine print?
Google reserves the right, but shall have no obligation, to pre-screen, flag, filter, refuse, modify or move any Content available via Google services.
The context of that statement has to do with obscene materials, but the statement itself does not limit Google to filtering for any particular stated reasons, and shows that there is no provision for a review of a user’s claim that material that might be deemed obscene by some people was necessary to their work.
It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act or other applicable law and to terminating the accounts of repeat infringers.
Note that in the above, all that is required for Google to take action is that a person be accused of infringement (presumably by corporate lawyers) and then to refuse to comply with an order that they may not agree is legitimate. No determination of an actual infringement seems to be required, just an accusation.
The privacy terms are not bad. However, there is this:
You agree that Google may provide you with notices, including those regarding changes to the Terms, by email, regular mail, or postings on Google services.
They are free to change their privacy policies at any time.
Google is offering a great deal to institutions in terms of the cost of the service they are provided, as compared to competing providers of email service. However, I’m not sure that institutions account for the non-monetary cost that makes up the difference, which is Google’s opportunity to present users with advertisements. (As a cost, it is paid by employees rather than by the institution.) At our institution, as far as I know, there has been no discussion of the fact that now that we will be using Gmail for our email, we will all be presented with commercial advertising in the context of our relationship to the university as employees or students.
I find all of this problematic. But nothing beats Google these days.