MISC. 21


This popular cloud storage service scores above average in all categories. Its sensible data use provision means that you grant Dropbox only very limited rights in any content that you upload. It has a good record with respect to government data requests. And its Terms of Service are fairly easy to understand and generally reasonable from a user’s perspective.

Data Use

You retain ownership of files you upload to Dropbox. The rights that you grant Dropbox are limited to those that are needed to “do things you ask [it] to do with your stuff”. Dropbox gets no rights except those necessary to provide the service it offers. This is one of the fairest data use provisions in our survey (Microsoft and eBay include a similar limitation). Google's competing Google Drive service is slightly less favorable to users on this point. Google has a license to use your content for the “limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving” Google services. Although this is similar to the Dropbox provision, note that it  allows Google to use your content for all of its services, not only the service for which you provided it.

SCORE: 22 / 25
  • Dropbox has very limited rights to files you put in your Dropbox

Data Disclosure

Dropbox can disclose information about you and files stored in your Dropbox account in four situations: (1) to respond to legal process, (2) to protect the safety of any person from death or serious bodily injury, (3) to prevent abuse, and (4) to protect Dropbox’s property rights. This is slightly narrower than most of the other agreements reviewed. Google’s terms, for example, allow it to disclose information to “protect against harm to the rights, property, or safety of Google, its users, or the public”.

Dropbox has promised to tell users when the government is requesting information about them. It publishes a law enforcement handbook and statistics on government requests.

SCORE: 23 / 25
  • Dropbox can share your data with third parties
  • Dropbox is transparent about government data requests

Amendment & Termination

Dropbox has the right to close your Dropbox account “at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice”. We would like to see this limited to cases where a user has breached the Terms of Service. Unusually, however, Dropbox also promises to attempt to notify you in advance:

If we suspend or terminate your use, we will try to let you know in advance and help you retrieve data, though there may be some cases (for example, repeatedly or flagrantly violating these Terms, a court order, or danger to other users) where we may suspend immediately.

SCORE: 14 / 25
  • Dropbox can terminate your account whenever it wants


No other provisions in the Terms of Service or Privacy Policy raised concerns. Dropbox’s agreements are refreshingly short and among the more readable of the documents we surveyed.

SCORE: 21 / 25

Peer Sites

Cloud storage

Google is included for its Google Drive service; Amazon for its AWS S3 storage service