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New laws have been proposed in the UK that would make it mandatory for organisations like Google to hand over this media to the government on request, and it has been alleged by Edward Snowden that the US Government already holds such powers.
Google’s motive is unclear. Perhaps they just want you to be able to share your media among your Google+ circles. But by storing your photos and videos with Google, you’re effectively granting access to at least two national governments. Even if you’ve got nothing to hide, this feels like an invasion of privacy.
Normally when you use a cloud service for backup, you manually select the files and folders you wish to transfer to the cloud. But Google wants you to run a ‘sync’ application that scans your PC and automatically backs up any media it finds. While running, the application provides no status reports and no indication of what is being uploaded.
Upon completion, there will be a bunch of seemingly random files in an unorganised and unstructured flat database in your Google Photos account. Some users have even reported similar images being combined to produce animated GIFs, for no apparent reason.
And once you’ve uploaded terabytes of data, Google may just decide to shut down the service, as they did with their Orkut social networking platform last year, and with Google Reader in 2013. When Google Reader was discontinued, all user data was simply deleted, with no opportunity to retrieve or recover information. Imagine the chaos as everyone scrambles to download massive photo libraries when Google announces an end to its photo service.
Ultimately, storing large media archives in the cloud can be time consuming and fraught with danger. If you really need to back up your photos and videos, a much simpler and faster solution is simply to buy a portable hard drive. Not free, but very cheap, and totally safe from prying eyes.