Google's evil karma: user agreements...

Error message

Historically, Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana has used Google Apps for email and calendars. It's basically Gmail and Google Calendar for businesses using their own domain name.

Google also gives 501(c)3 non-profit organizations access to Google Apps for free. You just have to submit some documentation regarding your 501(c)3 status. For quite a number of years, we have been using the free edition of Google Apps here at the church.

We continue to use Google Apps to this day. Recently, I needed to reapply for non-profit status with Google Apps. I was in the process of filing the necessary "paperwork" online when I ran into a snag...


To take advantage of the Google Apps for non-profits, I must agree that "My organization does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring/employment practices." (Here's a larger screenshot.) I cannot, in good conscience, agree to their terms.

I have been very sensitive to the terms of service agreements for these cloud services for some time, and I take screenshots when I notice things that bug me. Compare Google's terms of service agreement for Google Apps, above, with that of Microsoft's terms of service agreement for (larger shot here):


Instead of four checkboxes, Microsoft clumps it all together into one statement that you must agree to: "My organization does not engage in discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training or services, promotion, termination, and/or retirement based on rase, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, political affiliation, union membership or veteran status, other than allowed by law."

I'm convinced that Google knows very well that we are allowed by law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and so they have added that extra checkbox to target organizations like Clearnote Church.

When I noticed the Office365 terms of service agreement back in October, I sent the screen shot to Joseph Bayly with the following question, "I think the phrase "other than allowed by law" means that we can still use it, but… for how long?" He responded with the following: "Unbelievable. Pretty soon we'll have to run our own mail servers."

I'm convinced he's right.

Lucas Weeks

Lucas serves as an assistant pastor at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Although he pines for the warm, tropical weather that was familiar to him growing up in west and central Africa, he has since made peace with the harsher climes of North America.

Want to get in touch? Send Lucas an email!