Translation agency warns translators not to use Google Translator Toolkit

A couple of days ago, I got an email from one of the translation agencies I work for, addressed to all their freelancers. The email warned translators not to use Google Translator Toolkit (GTT) for any work done for that agency.

The reason they gave was confidentiality: they said that even if you don't save your translation in the toolkit, Google keeps your translation memory in its database, and publishes it to other translators.

I think it's pretty obvious that you shouldn't be using GTT if an NDA prohibits you from disclosing your work to third parties, but GTT must be making enough of a splash among translators that this agency felt the need to preemptively put the lid on it.

Maybe at some point in the future, GTT will have a paid option where you can keep your TMs private, but until then I don't see it getting much traction in the professional translation world.

6 comments to Translation agency warns translators not to use Google Translator Toolkit

  • Google should offer the paid option as you suggest. They should do it soon before too many people complain and turn it into “bad press”.

  • I may be wrong, but I think there is already the option to keep your TMs private. I think, however, that it is not turned on by default.

    I may be wrong: I checked it out once, out of curiosity, but haven’t used it yet.

  • Kevin

    Here are some quotes from the Toolkit’s help pages about this:

    By default, we save your translations to a shared, publicly searchable translation memory.

    Some translators, may not want to save their translations to a publicly searchable translation memory. In such cases, you can associate a translation memory with a translation by…

    Note that custom translation memories are not supported for Wikipedia and Knol. Since content in those sites are meant to be shared and published, translators can only save Wikipedia and Knol translations to our global, shared TM.

    So it seems you could use a “custom” TM if you trust Google’s privacy arrangement (not having to back up TMs would be tempting).
    But I think this Toolkit is a great thing for Wikipedia. It will be interesting to see how or if it affects the correlation between same-topic articles in English and Japanese. When the Toolkit gets around to supporting Japanese into English translation, I’d possibly do some Wikipedia translations for fun now and then on topics I’m interested in such as Japanese movies, novels, history, sports etc.

  • @Kevin

    Thanks for pointing out this information (link).

    I notice that Google itself doesn’t promise not to data mine your “private” TMs, so this would still seem to run afoul of most NDAs I’ve signed.

    I do think this will be great for things like Wikipedia and open-source software, however, as well as creative-commons books. For example, I know there’s a lot of interest in getting some of the Japanese-language ruby books translated into English. Doing this through GTT would make it a lot easier.

  • MT

    Great post!

    Freelancers really do need to be aware that using “cloud computing” services of any type, whether Google Docs or the Web version of MS Office, to say nothing of online translation memories, exposes them to liability if they disclose confidential information or information subject to an NDA. Almost all clients regard the translations as their property, not the freelancer’s, so you have to treat it as such. Freelancers really have no business using Google Translator Toolkit except for translations they are 100% sure do not fall under an NDA.

  • Yogaraj35

    I think GTT ( Google Translation Toolkit ) is good. It helps to create Translation memories / Translation Glossaries .
    It has infrastructure facilities to share with potential members of social media.
    We can organize it in such a way to review the contents periodically. Comparatively, this system promotes proper translation use of various languages in internet.
    I am happy if this shared globally, because i have the credible evidence to justify this is my work. And we also should mindful , this is a common policy which comes under Creative Commons License.

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