Google announced a new update that affects how links work on some of its services. The new system is part of a security update meant to make links more difficult to guess and exploit.
Google wants to force users to authenticate before accessing shared drives so it can track who views files or makes changes. It is meant to make sharing more secure across the board.
The change will primarily impact organizations and individuals using Google’s cloud storage services. Users will now need a resource key appended to their links to access shared files and folders. Anyone accessing a public file for the first time will have to request permission from the owner.
Some good news is that people who have already viewed specific documents will get the access keys automatically. But anyone that has previously accessed public links without logging in or visiting them for the first time will need the key.
The Update Doesn’t Impact Businesses
If you or your company use Google Drive sharing for collaboration, don’t worry. Both personal and business cloud storage account owners will be able to opt out of the update. The latter will also be able to let subaccount members decide for themselves.
The troublesome part is old publicly shared files. Much data is passed around the web through Google Drive links, but the owners might not be active or even have access to their accounts anymore. Many files might get permanently locked for new users.
YouTube Videos Affected en Masse
A change that could cause similar issues is coming to YouTube.
All videos uploaded as unlisted before 2017 will be switched to private. So, instead of being just videos that don’t appear in searches, they will only be shareable by the creator with up to 50 people.
Users will be notified about this and can opt out of the change or reupload the videos as unlisted. Still, many videos by inactive channels might be locked permanently.
While the changes will lead to more secure cloud storage and video sharing, a lot of content might be lost with no real recourse to return it. It remains to be seen what the user response will be and if Google will add some other features for easier access to old files.