The questions and answer below respond to the most frequently asked questions concerning privacy and York University's move to Google Apps. If you have additional questions regarding the Google Apps move and privacy, please see the University's Policy on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy or contact the Information and Privacy Office at or (416) 736-2100 x20359.

Will Google own the data that is stored in Google or passes through Google servers?

Google does not own student data. Data in accounts is the property of York University and/or the student, the end user. The agreement that York University has entered into with Google has no impact on the intellectual property rights or ownership of student data.

What steps has the University taken to ensure that my privacy is protected?

We have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that your privacy rights, as outlined in the University's policy on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy, are respected. Passport York passwords are not shared with Google. Our contract with Google prohibits Google’s access to email content, except to exercise rights and fulfill its obligations under our Agreement, including situations of services abuse or technical threat.

Google is also committed to your privacy and to protecting the confidentiality and security of your personal information. Google's security policies include provisions on the protection of your data against threats and unauthorized access.

What personal information is shared with Google?

A limited amount of student information is shared with Google in order to create a Google-powered student email account. The following personal information is provided: first name, last name, username, and email address to validate against our authentication services.

Will Google log my activity or scan my content?

Google has some access to your account as explained in the Google Apps Terms of Service. Google has agreed that the University is not granting Google any rights, implied or otherwise, to content. Google is not permitted to conduct data mining. Google has also agreed that Google is not permitted to include advertising in our student accounts.

Can Google share my personal information with any third parties?

No. Our agreement with Google states that Google is not allowed to share students' personal information, unless required to do so by law.

Who is responsible for protecting the data stored in or sent from my Google account?

Students continue to be responsible for how they use their University-provided email accounts in accordance with the University’s computing policies. Students have an obligation to promote responsible, ethical and secure use of services. Google is responsible for protecting and maintaining the security standards of the facilities it uses to store and process end-user data.

Where is my Google account data stored?

Student account data is stored at one of Google's global facilities; access to these facilities is governed by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the data is stored, including the USA PATRIOT Act. Note that both Canada’s Privacy Commissioner and Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (pdf) have stated that privacy risks from the USA PATRIOT Act are no greater than the risks from domestic or other foreign law enforcement bodies.

Account data may be stored in multiple locations to protect information against system failures and IT security risks. For further information about how your personal data is treated, see Google Inc.'s Privacy Policy.

How secure is my information?

Email, by its very nature, is neither completely private nor secure, regardless of the type of system being used or where the server is located. Any email may be the target of Internet predators, which is why it is important to have a strong password and not to share your confidential information with others. Never provide your password or other personal, secure information via email.

Google offers a number of security features, and also offers tips on keeping your account secure.

Read more about choosing secure passwords on the Computing website.

Does Google keep any of my information permanently?

Google does not retain your information permanently.  Information such as email messages that the user deletes, and information in any closed user accounts, is permanently removed by Google from its systems as soon as reasonably practicable and within a maximum period of 180 days.

Are users offered any spam protection?

Google includes spam protection with their service. Spam is automatically directed to a spam folder and purged after 30 days. The service also includes safeguards for virus checks and verifications before downloading data. However, not all spam protection is 100% effective. It is still up to you to exercise some caution when communicating with unfamiliar sources or downloading attachments.

More questions?

If you have questions about the functionality of your email account, contact the Computing Help Desk. For general questions related to your personal information, see the University's Policy on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy or contact the Information and Privacy Office at or (416)736-2100 x20359.