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[ NNSquad ] Re: Privacy Questions About the New "Google Cloud Print" Service

   [ Please see my comments below -- Lauren ]

I agree that this is the wrong direction - it takes the idea of "Networks as
a Service" to the next level by making us more dependent upon a centralized
service. It is the anti-Internet making us more dependent upon a middle.
Instead we should have a protocols that allow us to have a direct
relationship between end points. The problem with NATs is the protocol and
instead of adding another layer of dependency we need protocols which
support such direct relationships.

As you note what happens in an emergency when I need to print and can't get
out of the local network? Imagine if you can't turn on a light in your house
without consulting a central server like the DNS. It's a bug not a feature.

Same goes for Schlage which wants to wants to charge me $13 month for their
smart door likes - I can't change who can open the door without going
through their central service.

Is Google joining Cisco and the carriers in making us increasingly dependent
upon their omnipresence and benevolence so they can monetize us? Sure seems
that way.

Communities that available themselves of Google Apps should be very afraid.

    [ Bob, 

      With all due respect, your reply in this case has pushed the
      needle somewhat into the "rant" zone.  Google explicitly has
      solicited comments on their cloud printing plans -- which to me
      says that they are not engraved in stone.  I believe that a
      reasonable case (as I noted in my original message) can be made
      that in spite of the considerable benefits that cloud printing
      can bring, there is also a need for some level of native basic
      print capabilities for a number of reasons.

      You might consider waiting until Google responds on these issues
      before launching headfirst into an "Evil Google/Cisco" tirade.
      As for monetization, keep in mind that Google also explicitly
      assumes that they will not be the only organization providing
      cloud print processing.  You could presumably set one up, if you
      wish.  But I would argue that irrespective of who runs the cloud
      printing operation, there are still considerations that make
      native printing an important design element as a fall-back or
      "high security" choice in various situations and for suitably
      capable devices.

      Your trying to scare communities from Google Apps is
      increasingly nonsensical given the real world of municipal
      governments and budgets these days.  Even large cities like L.A.
      have proven themselves incapable of reliably operating their
      local IT infrastructures with available budgets and personnel,
      and the privacy and security risks in that situation are pretty
      awful.  Local doesn't mean panacea.

      So both with the printing situation in particular and IT more
      generally, it's a matter of ideally not being locked wholly into
      narrow (often emotionally-laden) pardigms, but rather having the
      appropriate options available for each given situation.  Easier
      said than done, of course.

           -- Lauren Weinstein
              NNSquad Moderator ]

  - - -  

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Lauren Weinstein
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2010 16:34
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Privacy Questions About the New "Google Cloud Print"




        Privacy Questions About the New "Google Cloud Print" Service





Greetings.  Google Labs has just published preliminary specifications

(and an associated call for comments and feedback) for a "print

anywhere" service that they are implementing, called "Google Cloud

Print" ( http://bit.ly/955NSl [ Google Code ] ).


The project has the very laudable goal of reducing OS print stack

complexities and enabling the ability for users of the Google Chrome

OS (and potentially other systems) to send print jobs to any

cooperating printer, anywhere in the world.  Google hopes that printer

manufacturers (or third parties) will implement supporting protocols

in printer firmware, though for now proxy software will be used to

bridge between users and hardware.


It is not immediately clear to me from the available documents to what

extent this model would ultimately be extended to the Google Chrome



While the goal of "universal printing" is wonderful, there are some

tricky non-technical issues that immediately come to mind.


For example, the Google documentation states:


   "Google Chrome OS will use Google Cloud Print for all printing.

    There is no print stack and there are no printer drivers on Google

    Chrome OS!"


This has two immediate and obvious implications.  It would appear that

if you don't have an Internet connection at any given time, you would

seemingly have no way to print under this model.  And perhaps of even

greater concern to some individuals and organizations, any document

that you wished to print would need to transmitted off of the local

system for cloud processing before it could even print on a printer

attached to the same local computer.


While Google explicitly assumes that various organizations will

implement their own cloud processing services that meet the required

specs, at least initially (and presumably for most users for some time

to come) Google itself would be the likely cloud print processor.


The willingness of individuals to send sensitive print jobs through a

remote processing point, simply to have them end up back on the

printer sitting on the desk next to them, seems problematic in at

least some cases.  Firms or organizations with ongoing security

concerns and related policies (law firms, law enforcement, other

government agencies, and so on) may also balk at this model (or simply

be prevented from using it due to privacy and/or security 

regulations) -- even if high-grade encryption protects the documents 

in transit and the cloud processing service promises to delete all 

associated data immediately after print processing.


Google's Chromium OS holds a great deal of promise, and I have very

high hopes for its wide deployment and success.  But my gut feeling is

that any OS or system that depends solely on remote processing for

local printer operations will find its adoption hobbled in many

environments by the kinds of concerns discussed above.


While I most definitely understand the technical attraction of

reducing local print processing complexity, I would urge

reconsideration of the assumption that a 100% reliance (as I read the

documents, anyway) on cloud-based printing can be an adequate

substitute for at least basic local printing capabilities that do not

depend on Internet connections and cloud services to operate.



Lauren Weinstein


Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800


Co-Founder, PFIR

   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org

Co-Founder, NNSquad

   - Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org

Founder, GCTIP - Global Coalition 

   for Transparent Internet Performance - http://www.gctip.org

Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com

Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein