Google wants to store all your files

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is preparing a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep on their personal computers, such as word processing documents, digital music, video clips and images.

Users could access their files via the Internet from different computers and mobile devices when they sign on with a password, and share them online with friends.

“A document Google inadvertently released on the Web in March 2006 said it was moving toward being able to “store 100% of user data,” citing “emails, Web history, pictures, bookmarks” as a few examples. The document referred to what appeared to be unannounced Google initiatives, including one dubbed “ GDrive ” and said they could help compete with Microsoft.”

Some of the storage space would be free, with additional storage allotments available for a fee. It could be released as early as a few months from now, according to some leaky people who declined to share their names.

Google already does some of this through its existing Web applications, but this service would tie everything together with a single search box. Other companies offer various Internet-based file storage services, but most have been slow to catch on. Some, like Yahoo's Briefcase, require users to go to a Web page and click through a few screens to upload a new file and set various limits.

Google's grand vision faces many bumps, most alarmingly of the privacy variety. No word yet on whether the search giant plans to display ads as part of the storage service, as it does with Gmail, which would likely raise red flags for privacy groups.

Even if it doesn't, consumers receive a lesser level of legal protection for the privacy of their data when it is on an Internet-based file storage system as opposed to just on their own computers, according to Kevin Bankston, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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