Want to use a server on Google Fiber? Too bad, says Google

  • 31 July 2013
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  • Retired Webrooter
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Something tells me Google's legal team and Google's other employees are probably not seeing eye to eye on this issue...

Ever since Google announced Google Fiber, a service that will provide ultra-fast 1GBPS internet, it has had a provision in its TOS which states that the service cannot be used to host a server.  Taking issue with this was a potential customer who filed a complaint against the policy in 2012.
So Google's lawyers said:
Your Google Fiber account is for your use and the reasonable use of your guests. Unless you have a written agreement with Google Fiber permitting you do so, you should not host any type of server using your Google Fiber connection, use your Google Fiber account to provide a large number of people with Internet access, or use your Google Fiber account to provide commercial services to third parties (including, but not limited to, selling Internet access to third parties).
And as the article from wired.com points out:
The problem is that a server, by definition, doesn’t have to be a dedicated expensive computer. Any PC or Mac can be a server, as can all sorts of computing devices.
Minecraft server?  That's still a server.  Mail server?  Still a server.  Slingbox?  Well, technically that's a server too.  Self-hosted wordpress blog?  Server.  You have a home business website hosted on one of your own computers?  Server.  Gamer?  Odds are, your computer is acting as a server sometimes.  What's the moral of the story?  You're probably running a server yourself at some point.
So what are Google's employees saying on their forum?  It's definitely not the same thing as what the lawyers are saying.
But in the Google Fiber forums, employees assure subscribers the rules aren’t meant to apply to Minecraft servers. And, in reality, Google Fiber probably won’t notice, let alone kick you off, for using a Slingbox or peer-to-peer software.
The sheer technological difficulty involved in Google trying to figure out what is and is not server traffic over their own network would be seemingly impossible to overcome if Google ever wants to actually enforce this provision.  To further complicate the issue, their rationale for why this is in their TOS could make any such effort untenable.  That reason being that they want to force business customers onto a forthcoming "business class offering."  For a company as technologically savvy as Google, it seems almost unthinkable that they would make the mistake of classifying general server use as a business-specific activity.  But there it is.

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