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So – we’ve been having a flood of emails from our lovely clients, all concerned about the recent emails they’ve been receiving from Google about the changes to the G Suite terms and conditions. Primarily, what Google are calling the “version 2.0 of the G Suite Data Processing Amendment” or DPA 2.0 for short!

Whoop whoop! What a bloody exciting subject to cover in our latest blog. It’s like a side order of onion rings on my vegan GDPR burger.

I have never before received such a confusing and convoluted email. The fact that it’s come from Google, and purports to be an urgent and vital matter that needs your attention makes it even worse. So little effort has been put into the language and communication here, it’s almost like Google WANTS you to feel confused and unsure about what’s going on. If they genuinely wanted you to understand this crap, surely they’d include a couple of little diagrams, infographics, maybe a picture of happy millennials supping iced coffee? When they’re trying to sign you up for a new service or run an Adwords campaign, the instructional guides and illustrations are delivered with amazing clarity and efficiency. Something to mull over next time you’re in your tin foil hat.

Who reads terms and conditions?

Short answer: nobody. We all know this instinctively, but there’s a heap of data that backs it up. They’ve even done scientific test with bunsen burners and stuff. Nobody reads them. And why would we? You’re presented with a infinite scrolling box filled with words you barely understand, and what’s more, you have no choice but to either accept the terms or stop using the technology altogether. As David Berreby wrote in the Guardian last year:

“an individual who depends on Google, Facebook or Twitter is not in a position to negotiate her own separate agreement. Why spend time on a contract you can neither change nor refuse?”

In the case of Gmail, that’s no choice at all – if you require this service to run your business, you can either agree to what they’re suggesting (which is deliberately obfuscated) or just stop using it altogether.

So… in the face of ideological defeat, let me stop ranting and show you how to agree with this stuff…

The DPA 2.0 email and what to do with it

In the email you received there was a link with some instructions, so let’s start there. Click on the miniature button, as illustrated below, and you’ll be sent to a page on the Google site with details of what to do.

They want you to log into your G Suite Admin page to make all of these changes, which you do like this:

Head to http://admin.google.com, and enter your email username and password!

Once in there you want to click on the COMPANY PROFILE button that’s immediately shown on the dashboard.

Once in there, click on PROFILE. You can then scroll down the screen until you find the new SECURITY & PRIVACY ADDITIONAL TERMS. There are two buttons next to each of these – one that lets you ‘review’ the new terms, and another that you can click to confirm your allegiance to dark lord of data security.

I attempted to read and review the new documents, but they make no sense to me. I’ve searched the web to try and find an easy to comprehend summary of what the true implications and motivations behind these changes are, but I’m still confused. Check out this thread on Reddit where some trolls are having a little debate about DPA 2.0: https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/comments/8iucjk/google_drive_updated_data_processing_regulations/

Or here on this software forum, where some chaps were talking about DPA 2.0 last year: http://discuss.bootstrapped.fm/t/is-it-important-to-opt-in-to-g-suites-dpa-2-0/5366

Or you can just do what I did and click the accept button.

The best possible explanation I can come up with, so far, is that these are purely in place to remove any liability on the part of G Suite. With so much personal data flowing through the Google servers, they must be on GDPR paranoia high alert. They want you to promise you’re not going to use their technologies to nefariously hoard data illegally, and if you do they want to be able to shut you down with a quickness and deny any accountability for your actions. But this is just my interpretation of things. Without any useful, easy to digest, guidance from Google it’s hard to know what all this is really about.

BOOM, and we’re done. That was fun wasn’t it?

If in doubt about any of this, you can always try and contact someone at G Suite and ask them what it’s all about. Because you’re a loyal, paying, customer of the G Suite platform you can contact Support at any time through the dashboard area of your G Suite account. Usually they’re pretty snappy, and pick up the phone within a few minutes of elevator music. You might find someone on the other end of the phone that can quickly summarise the changes in their policy. But judging by the terrible way in which it’s been communicated so far, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Insert shrugging cat emoji or confused doge here.