As an SEO that manages teams of link builders, social media optimizers, bookmarkers and article writers, this question has become paramount to the way I manage my SEO reports. My short answer is yes, Google can spy on your docs stored within Google Drive and therefore, you should not use this service for managing your SEO reports. Especially when you are managing large websites where millions of dollars are at stake. That being said, do not use Google Drive (formerly Docs) or even Gmail for SEO reports especially, when it comes to linkwheels and link networks.
Let’s take a lesson from other cloud-based services like MegaUpload getting shut down or how about what’s happening right now with RapidShare. TorrentFreak leaked this Rapidshare Internal Manifesto that outlines how they crawl your cloud-based files and can seize the content and terminate your account on the suspension that it violates a registered copyright. Bullshit laws not only allow Google to spy on your content but actually forces them to and here’s why:
“Services should terminate account holders or subscribers not merely upon proof that they are infringers but when sufficient copyright holders have called their conduct into question. In such cases, services deserve an explanation from the users as to why the suspicions are unfounded.”
Now thanks to laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the completely unconstitutional Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), cloud-based services like Google Drive will have no choice but to spy on your files! Even though Google supported Net Neutrality back in 2006 when they were still cool, they have now given their FULL support for CISPA along with these 800+ other major companies. Of course, the attempts to pass CISPA have failed so far but they will just change a few words, give it a new name and keep trying until it finally passes.
Here’s a sentence I snagged from Googles copyright and protection policies:
We provide information to help copyright holders manage their intellectual property online. If you think somebody is violating your copyrights and want to notify us, you can find information about submitting notices and Google’s policy about responding to notices in our Help Center.
Information we get from your use of our services. We may collect information about the services that you use and how you use them, like when you visit a website that uses our advertising services or you view and interact with our ads and content.
Read carefully, especially the part where it says to interact with our ads and content that means the SERPs too. Obviously, I have no proof that Google is actively using the information in your Docs aka Google Drive but this proves that they can if they want to. You must understand that the Google Ranking Algorithms are the most valued asset Google has and they will do anything to protect and enhance these algorithms. Even if that means scanning your Drive.
Google Spies on Your Gmail Too
Most people have already realized that Google crawls Gmail as well. Just send someone an email about a mortgage and you will start seeing mortgage-related advertisements in your Gmail. They use keyword scanning bots to scan all the content of your incoming and outgoing messages and when the bots find something that is related to an ad, they then display those types of ads in your inbox. Furthermore, Google even crawls your email attachments. I’ve tested this on several occasions where I will not mention anything about the targeted advertisement keyword, yet I’ll attach a keyword rich document to the email and I will still get related ads. This is why I also strongly advise against using Gmail to send SEO reports and especially if you are going to send a list of websites that are part of a linkwheel or network.