Whenever you use our services, we aim to provide you with access to your personal information. If that information is wrong, we strive to give you ways to update it quickly or to delete it -- unless we have to keep that information for legitimate business or legal purposes.
We may reject requests that are unreasonably repetitive, require disproportionate technical effort (for example, developing a new system or fundamentally changing an existing practice), risk the privacy of others, or would be extremely impractical (for instance, requests concerning information residing on backup tapes).
Where we can provide information access and correction, we will do so for free, except where it would require a disproportionate effort. We aim to maintain our services in a manner that protects information from accidental or malicious destruction. Because of this, after you delete information from our services, we may not immediately delete residual copies from our active servers and may not remove information from our backup systems.
Those concerned with Google's ability to keep tabs on you may want to pay special attention to a few of those clauses: Notably that Google can reject requests to delete information that "require disproportionate technical effort" and, more importantly, that backup copies of your data are not likely to be deleted promptly, if ever.
Takeout: Still Too Limited
So what does all of this really mean?
To date, user commentary has been surprisingly muted about Takeout. Those who have written about it mainly seem thrilled to have one-click access to their Google Voice records, their Google Docs, and their online contacts. In these respects, Takeout is actually a useful tool: Downloading this information piecemeal is a pain, and Google Takeout makes it considerably easier. Painless, even.
But even at a year old, Takeout is still a long way from offering users a legitimate way to get a handle on how exhaustive the information Google has about them really is. The number of services included in Takeout is paltry compared to the vast number of offerings that Google has available, particularly given that those services typically make this information available directly to the user. If Google can figure out a way to consolidate its myriad privacy policies, surely it can figure out a way to consolidate the downloading of collected user information, too. As engineering challenges go, this doesn't seem like a toughie.
Ultimately, Takeout is a good first step toward giving users more transparency about what the company does with their data, but if Google wants to prove it is serious about privacy, Takeout needs to be radically expanded--and to imbue users with the ability to delete materials they don't want Google to be sitting on.