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Google's Evil NDA 452

Posted by kdawson
from the not-to-be-confused-with-DNA dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil" — but they sure have an evil non-disclosure agreement! In order to be considered for employment there, you must sign an agreement that forbids you to 'mention or imply the name of Google' in public ever again. Further, you can't tell anyone you interviewed there, or what they offered you, and you possibly sign away your rights to reverse-engineer any of Google's code, ever. And this NDA never expires. Luckily, someone has posted excerpts from the NDA before he signed it and had to say silent forever." At the bottom of the posting are links to a few other comments on the Web about Google's NDA, including a ValleyWag post that reproduces it in its entirety.
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Google's Evil NDA

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  • you should look at what people on Wall Street agree to. It's really not so unusual. And you are always free not to work there - they don't owe you anything.
    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:47AM (#18972511) Homepage Journal
      first of all, just because it is 'worse' on Wall Street, doesn't mean this is good.
      Second of all, Yuour arguement is based on a fallcy. Basically it assumes there is equall opportunity everywhere at all times, AND nt everyone will make you sign something similiar.

      Freedom is about choice, and chosing between eating ar dying isn't really the freedom the founding fathers had in mind.

      There was a time in California where in order to work, you had to sign a non-compete. Everyone was doing it, and it effectivlly became 'you can never work for anyone else again.'

      The up shot is now non-competes are not valid. there are a few exceptions.

      NDAs are starting to become that way. 'You can never talk about what you do here' effectivly kills a career.
      I know, I have several years on my resume I can't talk abuot except in the most vague ways.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:55AM (#18972653)
        "I know, I have several years on my resume I can't talk abuot except in the most vague ways."

        Yeah, that part of your 'career' where you were in jail for climbing into the endangered bird sanctuary at your local zoo and buggering a heron.
      • by lothar97 (768215) * <owen AT smigelski DOT org> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:30AM (#18973239) Homepage Journal
        California law regarding non-competes has certainly changed to protect the employee. Now any type of blanket non-compete is completely void in California. This includes agreements which do not specifically contain non-compete terms, but which accomplishes the same goal. One caveat is the law still provides for non-competition based upon trade secret or confidential information. Thus many confidentiality agreements signed in CA between employees and employers comprise some type of prohibition of using "trade secret" or "confidential" material in subsequent competition.

        The big question is determining what exactly is trade secret or confidential information of the employer, and not general information related to that specific job or industry.

        And yes, IAAL in CA deals with this type of law, usually ex employees who take customers lists or other secret info and start a competing business.
        • by rainman_bc (735332) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:48AM (#18973569)
          And yes, IAAL in CA deals with this type of law,

          So tell me L in CA - I'm curious... In Canada we have certain constitutional rights protected under the charter. On of those rights is the right to a trial - I understand that the right to trial is also Constitutionally protected in the US also. I read further down this thread that people have waved their rights on Wall Street to have all their legal proceedings run by quasi-judicial councils instead on the NASD...

          Does your employer in the US have the right to force upon you as a term of employment anything that violates statute - either by Congress or the State government? I know in Canada, I was asked by an employer to waive my rights under the Employment Standards act in order to continue employment. I refused and took up the matter with our labour board. They were quite clear that contract law can never in Canada trump a law enacted by an Act of the House of Commons or even an act by our Provincial Legislature. Is that the case in the US too?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          We employ NDAs, as do most people if you read the contract fine print, and generally they're completely useless for regular staff who don't give a toss when they leave the company. Seriously think about it, why would anyone waste their time and money pursuing John Doe who interviewed for a assistant position at a lower level, and didn't get the job. There are plenty of examples for people who actually work at a company. The NDA, IMHO, is simply to remind the honest people and the ignorant people to think b
      • by skiflyer (716312) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:34AM (#18973339)
        Firstly, Non-compete's are likely not valid if you're enough of a superstar to warrant the court case... but they're valid enough to keep most employers from hiring you if your previous employer calls up and threatens the case.

        NDA's are definitely not starting to become that way. What's happening with NDA's is that they're making every Joe off the street sign them in order to look at the most un-interesting business processes and secrets, so Joe is just talking about it anyway. But for what you're talking about we'd have to see some court cases where the business then tried to enforce these NDA's and the court not only ruled in favor of Joe, but also said the invalidation of the NDA was not just because of scope of the NDA but because of the entire concept of the NDA, which won't happen in this corporate friendly country.

        Lastly, you really blow this choice issue out of proportion... The original argument does not assume equal opportunity everywhere, it assumes there are opportunities outside of google, which I must say is a pretty fair assumption.

      • What , you think Google will have spies in every company you interview at? As soon as you've finished the interviewer will be on the hotline to Google HQ and some heavies will pick you up on the way home? Come off it. No one takes any notice of these NDAs when at other jobs aside from blatant infringements such as ripping off code or publishing company info in the press. I've signed plenty of NDAs and ignored every single one as soon as I left the companies in question.
      • OTOH (Score:3, Funny)

        by C10H14N2 (640033)
        I love these things. It makes interviews so much easier.

        Q:"So, can you provide samples of your work?"
        A:"Since you want me to sign an NDA to work here, and that would violate the NDA I signed there, if I did that, it would render my signature worthless, so, no."
        Q:"Well, okay, then, do you have any references we can call?"
        A:"My severance contract forbids me from talking about them and them about me beyond title and dates of employment, and since I'm sure you do the same, see above. But, I'm sure my mom will p
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Wolfger (96957)

        NDAs are starting to become that way. 'You can never talk about what you do here' effectivly kills a career. I know, I have several years on my resume I can't talk abuot except in the most vague ways.

        What a sweet idea! If I'm ever unemployed, I'll sign an NDA with somebody (anybody) stating that I can't talk about who I worked for or what I did during the time in question. It might not look fantastic on a resume, but I'm sure it looks better than the gaping hole of unemployment.

    • by MontyApollo (849862) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:59AM (#18972731)
      It does seem pretty extreme just to do an interview. Especially about never mentioning the word "Google" ever again, even if you don't get the job.

      It seems the NDA could make it hard to ever get another job after Google, since you are not allowed to even mention Google or say what your salary was. That might make a resume look pretty funny, and it could be an awkward interview. "Yes, I used to work for an internet search engine company, but I can't tell you which one."

    • I was hired to write a program. The NDA dictated that I couldn't talk about the program or who hired me, or how it worked or what it did. And it had one evil clause in there that made it outrageous: I wasn't allowed to use the program that I developed. Not even during debugging/coding. Just had to code, and hope it ran when the guys that were allowed to use it came. But that doesn't mean Google's isn't bad... Just you know, all things considered..
  • Evil? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And he's been forced to sign this at gun point, right?

  • by Himring (646324) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:41AM (#18972397) Homepage Journal
    The first rule of fight club is you do NOT talk about fight club.
    The second rule of fight club is you do NOT talk about fight club.
    The third rule of fight club is you can NEVER reverse engineer meatloafs fake boobs....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:41AM (#18972399)
    What are they going to do? Kill m*BANG*

    [Yes, we are. We will however submit your Slashdot message as a warning for others.]
  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:42AM (#18972411) Homepage
    Just line out, and initial the parts you want struck. Add the phrase to the effect that by accepting this NDA as modified that Google agrees to it in it's modified entirety. Then get a photocopy of it. Usually companies will accept the modified contract without even looking at it, they are that self-absorbed.

    Agreements and contracts can be modified by any party that accepts or signs them. Usually they also contain the phrase that it cannot be modified by you, but just line out and strike it first.
    • Just line out, and initial the parts you want struck.

      And then you can, of course, be working some place else.

      • by ivan256 (17499) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:59AM (#18972707)
        I've modified the NDA at two places I've worked, and modified the non-compete and copyright assignment forms at *every* job I've worked at. I've even discussed the changes with the hiring manager. Yet I still worked for those companies.

        Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. It will probably even earn you some respect.
        • by Josh Coalson (538042) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:36AM (#18973383) Homepage
          this will work less and less, especially at big companies. the basic problem is that the people who make these policy decisions are totally insulated from any negative effects of the policy. if google unknowningly turned down someone who would have gone on to make them billions because s/he didn't want to sign the nda, how would they ever know? they only feel pain when something goes wrong that their current policy doesn't cover. so the policies get more and more ridiculous because it's impossible to do a proper cost/benefit analysis on them.

          that's why you have nda's, non-competes, work-for-hire, background checks, drug tests in so many places whether they make sense or not. all it will take is for one guy who got through all that to go postal at some tech company and next month everyone will be doing a mandatory psych battery on all applicants.
          • by sd_diamond (839492) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:41AM (#18974489) Homepage

            this will work less and less, especially at big companies. the basic problem is that the people who make these policy decisions are totally insulated from any negative effects of the policy. if google unknowningly turned down someone who would have gone on to make them billions because s/he didn't want to sign the nda, how would they ever know?

            In fact, they are almost certain not to know, because even if that person goes on to great fame and wealth, they're prevented by the NDA from ever mentioning that they interviewed at Google.

            Genius!

        • by The Taco Prophet (538981) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:23PM (#18975165) Homepage
          I've modified the NDA at two places I've worked, and modified the non-compete and copyright assignment forms at *every* job I've worked at. I've even discussed the changes with the hiring manager. Yet I still worked for those companies.

          Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. It will probably even earn you some respect.

          I received a job offer a year and half, maybe two years ago. I was extremely excited after the interview; the team was talented, the product was cool, they were using tech I wanted to play with. Along with the offer came a paper they needed me to sign to give them permission to do a background check. Cool.

          When I read the background check, I was concerned. In addition to the totally normal stuff (making sure I graduated when I said I had, worked where & when I said I had, etc), and the stuff I don't really like but is becoming pretty normal (checking my credit history and driving record), the document also explicitly granted them the right to do research to determine who my friends, family, and neighbors were, and to interview them to find out about me. Not only that, but the document explicitly granted them this right forever.

          I contacted their HR department and asked about it, because it seemed pretty unusual. They told me that it was required. I asked why. Nobody could tell me. I asked if there was some government agency that required it or some such (not out of the question given the type of work they were doing), and was told no, but not to worry about it, because they weren't ever going to actually use the right.

          So I crossed it out, initialled it, signed it, and sent it back.

          They came back the next day with a fresh copy of the doc saying no dice. They wouldn't budge. So I politely thanked them for their time and declined the position. They started dialing numbers up higher, and then their HR guy started calling me to "negotiate" by insinuating a lot of insulting things about me. I lost my temper and told the HR guy (not exactly rudely, but far more directly than was appropriate) exactly what I thought. I wish I'd been more tactful about it now, but I'm glad I brought light to it.

          On the up-side, everyone with whom I had direct contact went back to their desks, checked their paperwork, and expressed some concern over realizing that they'd signed the exact same invasive agreement. So maybe I helped out over there a little in the end.

          They contacted me again a few months later about the same job, apparently unable to fill it. I'd love to say it was because they were getting screwed by their agreement, but there's no way to know. The job used a slightly unusual skill set, and wanted pretty advanced knowledge of it, so they may have just been unable to find someone else qualified.

          Short story extremely long, I've also found that they'll generally negotiate. Not always how you want, maybe, but if they want you, they'll do what they can.

          I've seen a few posts about being in a position of needing the job, and it's true, sometimes you're in that boat. But I've never had anyone retract an offer when I asked about something I had a problem with. There's never any harm asking, and if they won't budge, well... then you can decide if you're hungry enough to live with the agreement.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:14AM (#18972979) Homepage
        I modify EVERY contract I sign. I NEVER EVER sign a contract as-is. From a car purchase to a Cellphone contract.

        Only fools blindly sign those things, and these companies know that most people are in fact fools.

        I struck out the no compete and the "we own all your IP" sections of my comcast contract and EVERY contract they make you sign yearly when the stupid HR department tries to prove they are worth something.

        I make a copy before submitting (I refuse to do their Online signing, it pissed off all the HR people) worked there 7 years until I moved on to a far better job, Did the same thing here to.

        If you sign ANYTHING without reading it in it's entirety and modifying the thing you do not agree to, you really are a silly fool.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:18AM (#18974101)
          Before you get too self-righteous, note that there may be advantages to not modifying standard contracts. If the contract cannot be modified by one party, then it is considered a contract of adhesion, and in grey areas courts will rule against the drafting party. If you make your own changes then you could be assuming some of the responsibility that goes with drafting a contract. That could be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.

          See, for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra_proferentem [wikipedia.org]
    • by winkydink (650484) *
      Im guessing if they went to the trouble of being this strict with their NDA, they are also pretty strict about not accepting changes to it. At most large companies, the only people who are authorized to approve changes to an NDA are the legal department and if you, as a hiring manager / HR recruiter / individual contributor, sign a modified agreement without that approval, then you are putting your job in jeopardy.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:50AM (#18972589) Journal

      Just line out, and initial the parts you want struck. Add the phrase to the effect that by accepting this NDA as modified that Google agrees to it in it's modified entirety.
      That works if the potential employee pool is shallow. People are knocking down doors to work at Google, so Google can just say no and move on to the next highly qualified applicant who won't potentially cause them legal nightmares down the road.
      • by SpacePunk (17960)
        Then google will, and probably is, populated by the weak.
        • Or populated by the strong who happen to be not bothered by the NDA. The two aren't mutually exclusive.
          • by SpacePunk (17960)
            Naw, no strong people there. Sheep, perhaps. I bet they also let google go through their credit report. People like that have no respect for their own well being, won't have any respect for others well being... hence, the China debacle.
            • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:13AM (#18972951) Journal
              What, people can't prioritize differently than you? The ability to make public statements just doesn't matter to most people who are just interested in working on awesome (to them, anyway) projects and being rewarded for their hard work. It doesn't make them sheep, it doesn't make them weak.

              hence, the China debacle
              Whoa, complete red herring there. The China policy decision by Google is unrelated to this; those policy decisions are not made by the rank-and-file.
        • by Billosaur (927319) *

          The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by OldeTimeGeek (725417)
      Then you may have to wait a while - at least in the case of the company that I work for. Line managers here aren't permitted to accept changes to contracts or agreements and your changes would have to be reviewed by our contracts group and our lawyers. At the speed things work here, you may get the revised paperwork back in, say, a month...
      • by SpacePunk (17960)
        Doesn't sound like your company moves very fast at all, but there are still sloths in existance so it's not all bad huh?
    • IANAL, but from going through home sales and purchases a number of times now, each party must initial anywhere there was a change, to indicate that the change was accepted. If the candidate lines out an item, it may not be a valid revision unless someone with authority to represent Google also initials each stricken or modified comment.
      • by bhmit1 (2270) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:06AM (#18972841) Homepage

        IANAL, but from going through home sales and purchases a number of times now, each party must initial anywhere there was a change, to indicate that the change was accepted. If the candidate lines out an item, it may not be a valid revision unless someone with authority to represent Google also initials each stricken or modified comment.

        If they don't initial and don't agree to your change, then the most they can do is declare the contract void. They aren't allowed to force you to agree to something you removed before signing the document. In this case, google doesn't want the entire NDA declared void, so there's nothing they can do to unstrike the comment other than not hire you and not tell you something subject to the NDA.
    • by jandrese (485)
      Has that ever actually worked for anybody?
      • by SpacePunk (17960) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:08AM (#18972885) Homepage
        Hardly anybody tries that, and most people dont' even read what they sign. I do it on credit card applications (have two modified credit cards where the company can't change the interest rate), job applications (back when I wanted one, now I'm a consultant), any time someone wants me to sign anything. I read it all, modify what is needed, and it just really pisses people off when you read everything you sign. It's amazing the length of audacity that people that work for large companies will go to. My insurance agent once wanted me to sign that I read a particular item, so I forced him to produce it (took the asshole an hour and a half to find one), and I read it... slowly.

        Slashdot here is a duality of bullshit. On one hand there are a lot of people here that like to bad mouth corporations, but they'd sign that NDA without reading it because it's 'google'. Well, fuck Google, it's a large corporation now, and it'll bend you over and fuck you in the ass if it thought that would get it ahead (speaking as an entity). One of the other dualities are the pagans that like to bad mouth christianity even though paganism is just as stupid.
    • by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:57AM (#18972679)
      Aside from the ridiculousness of your proposal, I'd suggest that you actually read the NDA in the TFA:

      4. Participant agrees not to do the following, except with the advanced review and written approval of Google: (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity, or other matter relating to this Agreement (including the fact that a meeting or discussion has taken place between the parties) or mentioning or implying the name of Google."
      They aren't saying you can't talk about Google, just that you can't talk about the negotiations and the NDA itself. I don't know about you, but that doesn't seem altogether unreasonable to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ctrl-Z (28806)

        4. Participant agrees not to do the following, except with the advanced review and written approval of Google: (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity, or other matter relating to this Agreement (including the fact that a meeting or discussion has taken place between the parties) or mentioning or implying the name of Google."

        IANAL, and maybe I'm missing some context here, but it says that you can't mention or imply the name of Google. It doesn't say you can't mention or imply the name of Google in the context of the Agreement. I don't see how one could read it otherwise.

      • Yes they are (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jare (790431)
        This is the way I interpret that sentence:

        "release any articles [...] relating to this Agreement [...] or mentioning or implying the name of Google"

        That is excessive and uncalled for.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by houghi (78078)
        If you get the job, not, but if you don't get the job, it is very unfair to have been strangled into signigh it to get only an interview.

        Google is coming to Belgium and each and every lawer and court will dismiss this as unlegal. The only thing the person needs to say is that if he hadn't signed it, he would not have gotten an interview and therefor no chance of getting a job.

        The law in Belgium has some strict lines between witch it can work. If you step outside those lines, the default will step in and the
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      You could do all that, if they didn't blindfold you first...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by digitig (1056110)

      According to his biog, the physicist Richard Feynman did that when he was conscripted. He struck out the bit about obeying orders. IIRC, the army didn't even notice until he refused to obey an order and pointed it out when challenged. IIRC, all they could do was boot him out of the army again.

      Of course, in that case being booted out was an acceptable outcome. Probably not if you're applying for a job.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sabre86 (730704)
        Who's blog? Feynman's? He died in 1988, I don't think he had a blog. Also, in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! he distinctly says he was rejected from the army. Seems to me either you've been bullshitted or are bullshitting yourself. Not sure which.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:43AM (#18972431)
    There's nothing in there that restricts you from disclosing your salary with others. It is, in fact, illegal for a U.S. company to prevent its non-management employees (even professional/exempt/salaried ones) from disclosing their compensation.
    • Yeah, but I've yet to see a company that didn't include the "don't discuss your salary with anyone" in the contract. It's really in the company's best interest to keep you in the dark as to your actual bargaining position. They really don't want some of there less savvy people to learn just how much more their co-workers make just because they know how to play the table at the salary negotiations.
      • by slackmaster2000 (820067) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:10AM (#18973941)
        Having been through this one before a few times, it's not just in the company's best interest to keep people in the dark, it's in the employees' best interest as well. No good can ever come from discussing your compensation with your coworkers. It will always turn into chaos because everyone feels important enough to be compensated more, but not every employee is equally important. When any group of employees starts getting pissed about money, it impacts everyone.

        It's much better to read up on what your position pays on average for your area, evaluate your own performance, and then try to negotiate more money on your own. And think about it, if you're management, and all your employees suddenly know what everyone else makes, do you rectify the situation in the future by paying everyone more? No, probably something closer to the opposite of that. Maybe you can rectify things by talking to everyone like adults until everybody is on the same page and walks away with a newfound respect for the way life works....yeah.

        Blabbing on about your compensation is a typical just-out-of-college-now-show-me-the-money mistake. It's amateur. Not only should a person never disclose what they make to their coworkers, but they should never disclose this information to anyone. This is one of the few parts of life that is actually very gamey. Keep your finances, religion, and (strong) politics closely guarded with only your most trusted family. It's personal encapsulation. Only expose what you need to expose and you'll have less people mucking in your business.

        If you want to be one of the people who get the larger yearly increases, and the bigger bonuses, then make yourself appear invaluable...which often means that you'll have to do more, and do more things that "wow" people. You can verify that you're being treated well by *paying attention.*
        • by slamb (119285) * on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:45AM (#18974561) Homepage

          Having been through this one before a few times, it's not just in the company's best interest to keep people in the dark, it's in the employees' best interest as well. No good can ever come from discussing your compensation with your coworkers. It will always turn into chaos because everyone feels important enough to be compensated more, but not every employee is equally important. When any group of employees starts getting pissed about money, it impacts everyone.

          That's the party line, but it's wrong. What makes employees mad is being surprised by hearing through unofficial channels of huge pay imbalances. They're rightfully angry that this information has been concealed from them.

          I used to work for a hospital that was part of a state university. Like all government-run organizations, everyone there knows what everyone else is paid. Salaries are printed in the local newspaper every year. There's even a searchable website [goiowacity.com]. And yes, some people are paid a lot more than others. Yet somehow, the whole system does not come crashing down. The difference is universal, official disclosure. I sure wouldn't want to be the one guy whose salary everyone knows.

  • by What Is Dot (792062) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:43AM (#18972439)
    I don't see any problem with this kind of an agreement. The government has similar agreements, but theirs are far more strict. How does this hurt the potential employee anyway? When a company is trying to protect its interest in a highly competitive field, how much is too much?
  • by darthscsi (144954) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:44AM (#18972457)
    What you are not allowed to do in the section mentioned there is use the fact that you had a meeting with google in your marketing or press releases. It does not say you can never mention google, as the summary indicates. For individuals, the most likely and probably only implication of the section is that you might not be able to use an employment offer from google as a bargening chip with other companies, but this isn't clear to me, as I don't know if that can be considered in the classes of things you cannot disclose from other sections (or if by nature a job offer to you does not ential a duty of confidentiality on your part since it isn't related to trade secrets or anything else explicitly mentioned).
    • by AndersOSU (873247)
      Well it does say:

      Participant agrees not to do the following, except with the advanced
      review and written approval of Google: (a) issue or release any
      articles, advertising, publicity or other matter relating to this
      Agreement (including the fact that a meeting or discussion has
      taken place between the parties) or mentioning or implying the
      name of Google

      Now, that may mean not to say I signed a NDA with Google, but it could easily be read that you should permenently strike the word google from your vocabulary.

  • by cerberusss (660701) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:46AM (#18972491) Homepage Journal
    Seems like the lawyers have taken over there. Management asked lawyers the question: "Make a risk analysis and possible solution."

    Lawyers draft up some crazy-ass contract which is perfectly logical but doesn't take common sense into account. All risks mitigated, and at the same time, looks ridiculous.
  • by TrippTDF (513419) <hilandNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:47AM (#18972499)
    I have a friend that works at Google in NYC, and I went to visit the office once. I had lunch with him and a couple of other people that worked there. They started talking about work-related things, and one of them turned to me and said "Are you a Goolger?" (Google employee) and I said no. All three of them suddenly became very careful not to use any terms that would give me a clue what they were talking about- using lots of pronouns and very general type of language as to not disclose any of what they were talking about.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      How rude. Specifically talking in a way to exclude someone from a conversation.

      OTOH, you could ahve said 'Yes'. I mean, it's their rule not yours!

      Like the mason ring. You are not allowed to wear one if you are not a mason, but if you aren't a mason their rule doesn't apply to you, so you can wear one.

      • by Bandman (86149)
        I bet if you wear a Masonic ring and you're not a mason, you have some very odd interactions with people

    • by Have Blue (616) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:00AM (#18972739) Homepage
      You would have the same experience with (conscientious) employees of any other cutting-edge company. Secret projects are secret projects.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Voldemort, is that you?
  • I ain't sayin' nothing, so don't even bother asking...
  • this story is only shocking and interesting to those who still believe google is somehow saintly amongst large companies. that's impossible. a large company is a large company is a large company. they're all the same amount of corporate evil (however small or large you imagine that necessary/ unnecessary evil to be, salt to your particular political inclinations)

    there is a certain prejudicial aura around google in the slashdot crowd. circa 2002, google was every geek's wet dream, powerhouse little startup bringing the big bad guys to their knees at their own game. however, since that time, google has morphed into just another 500 pound corporate gorilla, no better and no worse than microsoft, or walmart, or any other corporate bogeyman of your choice

    slashdot: google = microsoft. get it into your head. doubleclick and privacy, china censorship, this nda. take your pick. fall out of love. the fairy tale story is over

    in all of your prejudicial and stereotypical ways of thinking about microsoft, apply it to google, and then maybe ytou have a better understandning of that company (and of microsoft, while google is not as saintly as the presumed slashdot prejudice imagines, microsoft is not as rabidly evil as the presumed slashdot prejudice imagines)

    please update your circa 2002 prejudicial impressions of google to 2007. k thx

    • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:29AM (#18973235) Homepage
      Believe that all large companies are equally evil is as stupid as beliveing that Goodle is not evil.

      Evilness is not only caused by the nature of having a large organziation, and . Large organizations encourage it by their nature, but it not the only cause.

      Enron was TRULY, FREAKIN EVIL.

      They intentionally gamed the system to raise energy prices, cheating their customers, the states, everyone. They encouraged employees to buy Enron stock despite many of them KNOWING they they were breaking the law. They lied about everything, and engaged in multiple criminal actions, including destoying documents.

      Google is no Enron. They are not as evil as all other companies.

      I would probably rank Google as one of the better companies. On a scale of evil from 0 being a one more store run by an honest priest, to 100 being Enron, they are probably a solid 70. Microsoft is around a 85-90 or so. They cheated their customers and clients, but never cheated their own employees and generally admitted their illegal activities instead of working as hard to cover them up as they did to do them in the first place.

    • this story is only shocking and interesting to those who still believe google is somehow saintly amongst large companies. that's impossible. a large company is a large company is a large company. slashdot: google = microsoft.

      Let me switch my brain into stark, uncompromising black-and-white mode so that I can understand the logic.

      <click>

      Okay. Here we go:

      1 employee: good
      2-9 employees: good
      10-49 employees: good
      50+ employees: BLAM! EVIL! MICROSOFT -EVIL!

      Slashdot, what you must learn is that *ALL* larg
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:49AM (#18972567)
    ...do not try to interpret an NDA without one. This article is perfect proof as he misreads items and takes several others out of context. The lack of a "built-in" expiration is nothing new either, since Google is attempting to protect their current technologies and see no reason why they would be replaced in 5, 10 or 20 years. The built-in expiration is the public availability of the information.

    Really, this blog post is almost FUD, or maybe it is just downright stupidity. Like I said, if you are not a lawyer...then ask one to read your NDA, because legalese != English.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...I can't comment on this post.
  • by Bandman (86149)
    And the big deal is what? You're not allowed to talk about the interview until you get hired or not. It's not like when someone asks you where you work, you have to cough and look away.


    Participant agrees not to do the following, except with the advanced review and written approval of Google: (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity, or other matter relating to this Agreement

  • by twfry (266215) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:17AM (#18973015)
    IANAL, but I do know a bit about how far NDA's can extend in the US. Here courts will only enforce them for around 1 year, maybe 2 if you were very senior level and the NDA was tailored to exclusive points regarding your job. Courts will also not enforce NDAs that cover too much information (let alone everything). The NDA has to be limited in the information considered to be protected.

    In cases where companies made over extended NDAs, the courts generally view them as being too broad and unenforceable. A company can not limit an employee from competing against them for too long or limit the employee too much in what they can say/do in the limited restricted period.

    The courts in the US when faced with similar NDAs, have simply stated they are too broad and as a result nothing is enforceable. These NDAs are useless and you are free to do what you want even if you signed one. Have fun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wrook (134116)
      You may be right and you may be wrong. It is actually immaterial. The very fact that you signed it means that it will go to court. Having an issue like this go to court (especially over an NDA) can make you completely unemployable for the duration of the court case. Court cases can be drawn out over years. A non-enforceable NDA that you signed can make your life hell.

      This is not fun. Don't do it. If you don't like a contract, don't sign it!!!! Or modify it (as someone discussed above) and then sign i
  • Copyright? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:22AM (#18973089) Homepage Journal
    The blogger (site seems dotted or squashed, here's the mirror) [mirrordot.org] wrote that "Since linking the entire NDA would likely violate Google's copyright on the document, I'll just quote sections of it below"

    IANAL, but I seem to remember hearing that contracts are specifically not eligible for copyright. Anyone know more about this issue?
  • by minotaurcomputing (775084) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:23AM (#18973101) Homepage Journal
    I have remained silent too long and I must point out that in fact Google caused my divorce. I was contacted by them numerous times for technical phone screens and was eventually brought out to CA for an interview and received very positive feedback. However, because of the evil NDA I was forced to keep all of this information from my wife. To her I was acting strange by: 1) jumping up from the dinner table to take phone calls in the other room, 2) flying out to some unknown location for a couple days, 3) returning happy, and 4) refusing to explain any of these actions. Google and its insidious NDA have ruined my marriage... woe is me!

    -m
  • NDA Clarification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noirsoldats (944384) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:37AM (#18973405)
    Ok... let's deconstruct (reverse engineer?) the part of the NDA that most people seem to be getting their panties in a bunch over,

    4. Participant agrees not to do the following, except with the advanced review and written approval of Google: (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity or other matter relating to this Agreement (including the fact that a meeting or discussion has taken place between the parties) or mentioning or implying the name of Google; (b) make copies of documents containing Confidential Information; or (c) reverse engineer, disassemble, decompile, translate, or attempt to discover any prototypes, software, algorithms, or underlying ideas which embody Google's Confidential Information.
    specifically Section 4a. Now, you know the legal-ese buzzwords in this are rather minimal so I'm not sure why you people are having SUCH a hard time reading this.. but let me break it down for you...

    (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity or other matter relating to this Agreement (including the fact that a meeting or discussion has taken place between the parties) or mentioning or implying the name of Google;
    First let's take out the parenthetical un-needed junk.

    (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity or other matter relating to this Agreement or mentioning or implying the name of Google;
    *points up* Is that any more clear without the 'thought bump' in the middle? Participant agrees not to 'issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity or other matter relating to this Agreement or mentioning or implying the name of Google'..... Meaning don't release news stories or make advertisements about something 'confidential' relating to Google of which you know nothing about. Ya know, like spreading rumors. Open your eyes folks, not a THING unusual about this NDA except for the wording.. And that in itself isn't unusual, it is just that Google seems to getting a lot more attention than any company before them. Side Note: Does this really deserve to be an article?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by deblau (68023)

      Participant agrees not to do the following, except with the advanced review and written approval of Google: (a) issue or release any articles, advertising, publicity or other matter ... mentioning or implying the name of Google;
      When you properly omit the irrelevant portions, you get something really heinous and restrictive.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:56AM (#18973667)
    I've had some time in the auditing sector. If you think Google's NDA is bad, don't ever go there. What I had to sign can be easily summed up with "You're not gonna talk about what you did here, when you did it, who you worked with or even that you did it, or we'll make sure you won't work again, ever".

    Now, when I movee away I got 5 years of thin air in my CV. Can't write anything sensible in there. Tops would be "5 years at $auditing". No job description, no work place, no reference, nada. The only thing I got was a quite bland, nondescript "Yeah, that guy worked for us for those 5 years and he did ... stuff" letter.

    You can't even violate that NDA and tell your future employee what you did. If you do, it shows him that you don't give a shit about NDAs and there goes your job opportunity, since, well, if you didn't even honor the NDA of a company that does actually have the muscle to make sure you won't work EVER again if they found out, how much do you care about the NDA of some smaller company?

    NDAs mean that you can't use your quite interesting experience in your CVs. Some of the things I did back then would have made my CV shine brilliantly for the job I got now. Luckily, I got it regardless, without having to break the NDAs I signed then.

    But I guess I could've asked for a few hundreds more, if I could've told him just what I know. I do have valuable knowledge for my employer that he would maybe honor with more money. I just can't talk about it.

    So, bottom line, I am lucky regardless. Many ain't, because they can't use their experience in their CV, due to NDAs. They can't say that they know, say, the flaws of online banking software when they start at a security company that was recently hired by some bank.

    Just as an example, of course...
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:51AM (#18974687) Homepage Journal
    Oh I'm sorry, have you ever heard of a non tech company? Yeah there's this beverage company called Coca Cola where they have a frightening level of paranoia they check everyone going in and out and they really don't like it if you so much as utter the name 'Coca Cola'. Even if you don't work there, even if you're on a consulting gig and the company hasn't even signed a contract yet. And if you ever allude to having worked for any beverage company or, as a consultant, even in that sector, they don't want you on the account at all and will probably have you thrown off.

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