Privacy of data in the Cloud has always been a matter of concern for the Privacy conscious Internet users. Everyday we use a number of online services where we upload and create data. A responsible company which cares for its users would make sure, it provides easy options to remove their data. As they say “If there are no fences – there is no need to escape”
In keeping with their “Don’t Be Evil” pledge, Google has started the dramatic sounding Data Liberation Front. This is how Google describes it – “We started looking at our products and discovered that while the door to leave wasn’t locked, in some cases it was a bit “stuck” and we thought that we could do better.”
Google is criticized for the large amount of user data it has collected and organized. So with this project, Google is showing its commitment for “freedom of removing your data” that all users enjoy with Google services.
Google’s Data Liberation Front:
Although this project had been in works since 2007, its was officially launched in 2009. Since its inception Google has steadily added new services to DataLiberation.org. As of today you there are 27 Google services listed from which you can export your data.
How to Export Your Data From Google Services:
The Data Liberation Front has made it quite easy to move your data out of Google services, in a standard format – so that you can import it into any other service of your choice. Lets look at a few examples of services that most of use quite often.
Removing/Exporting Your Data from Gmail:
There are two ways to export your Gmail data.
It’s easy to use a different email reading program with Gmail using either IMAP or POP, or to get all your mail out to take to a different provider. Go to the Settings page (link at top right of Gmail page), Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
If you decide to switch email providers away from Gmail, you will probably want to have Gmail automatically forward new emails to your new address. That same Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab lets you send all new incoming emails to a different address. You can choose not to keep any emails in your Gmail inbox.
Removing/Exporting Your Data From Google Docs:
After GMail, Google Docs is one of the service where we upload most of our data. Google has made it super easy for its users to export data out of Google Docs.
Export One or All of your Documents:
In order to download the documents that you’ve placed into Google Docs, you can either use the “Export” menu item when editing an individual document, or you can also download the documents from your Google Docs homepage.
Select one or more files and then click on “Export” from the “More Actions” menu. Next, pick the format (e.g. PDF, Microsoft Word, etc) you want for your exported files. Finally, click “Continue” and you will get a zip file to download that has all your content.
Conversions to and from new formats are being added at regular intervals. The last major update to the list of possible conversion types is outlined in this blog post.
There’s also a great help article on uploading and downloading your content from a user’s Google Docs home page. Exporting from the individual products that make up Google Docs can be found in other help documents as well.
Removing/Exporting Data From Picasa Web Albums:
Typically, if you’re using Picasa Web Albums, you’ll already have a copy of your photo albums on your personal computer, so there’s not much of a concern with getting your data “out” of Picasa. However, if your computer is unavailable (e.g. it’s crashed or stolen), you’ll surely want to retrieve your photos from the web. One way to do this is to use the “Import from Picasa Web Albums” feature in Picasa:
That will copy the photos from your web albums onto your local computer.
You can also download albums from Picasa Web’s web interface.
Removing Data from Other Google Services:
We have written about some of the services where most of the users keep their personal data. These are just a few examples.
You can visit the Data Liberation Front website and choose any of the services listed there and you would see detailed instructions to remove data from the selected service.
Personally I think this is a an excellent move from Google as it takes the Google’s tradition of Openness to a whole new level. My thanks Google for giving the users the choice to stay or move from their services – This shows you care about your users.