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Privacy best practices when working with Google Cloud Support

This article provides privacy best practices for Google Workspace administrators when contacting and working with Google Cloud Support. To obtain guidance on the specific requirements applicable to your organization, we recommend that you consult with a legal expert, as this article does not constitute legal advice.

Removing sensitive data when creating a support case

As part of a support case, we may collect customer contact information, case details, support interactions, and customer feedback. We consider this data to be Service Data, the processing of which is covered in the Google Cloud Privacy Notice

When you reach out to Google Cloud Support through different channels, you see a notification in the user interface to remind you to omit or remove any sensitive data (for example, credit card numbers, passwords, health information, government ID numbers) when creating a support case.

Occasionally you might send sensitive data to Google Cloud Support. You can ask the support agent to remove such content in the support ticket. Support personnel follow an internal process to proactively identify such sensitive information stored in the support ticket. Support personnel are empowered and trained to flag any case that could potentially compromise personal information or Google data and escalate for review to a designated internal team to evaluate these cases and take appropriate action. 

Google also builds support tools to help you sanitize the sensitive information. For example, Google created a HAR Analyzer tool to help you screen HAR files, which alerts you not to disclose sensitive data such as cookies, passwords, credit card numbers, and more. Google uses the HAR file to investigate if requests get a specific error-response code or if the request is aborted. Google also examines the HAR file to find out if the issue is caused by non-error responses or if the HAR file failed to capture the error causing the issue.

Note: HAR, which is an abbreviation for HTTP Archive, is a JSON-formatted archive file format for logging a web browser's interaction with a website.

Sharing files with Google Cloud Support

You may need to share files (occasionally including personally identifiable information (PII))  with Google Cloud Support for troubleshooting purposes. When sharing via case (preferred method) is not feasible you can host a file using Google Drive and share the link with Support. You control who has access to the file and how long the file will be retained.

You can share the file with Google Cloud Support and allow access for troubleshooting purposes. For example, log files that are too large for upload to support cases may be shared this way. The support agent instructs you to set an expiration date and revoke Google Cloud Support’s access when the case is closed.

Note: As a Google Workspace administrator, you're sent an email communication with step-by-step instructions for how to share files with Google Cloud Support.

Subprocessor security and access

Google Cloud Support engages third-party entities (see Google Workspace and Cloud Identity Subprocessors) to perform limited activities in connection with Google Cloud Support. Support subprocessors do not have access to Customer Data stored or processed by Workspace services. The Support subprocessors only have access to Customer Data if you explicitly elect to share your Customer Data in the course of a support case.

The following security safeguards are in place to control access to Customer Data by such subprocessors:

  • Subprocessors exclusively use Google-managed machines to access corporate resources.
  • Google's internal systems have built-in interconnected controls that will grant or deny access to a support agent depending on systematized checks that are performed (for example, to confirm the owner of a support case).
  • System access by subprocessors is systematically logged and periodically audited to ensure appropriate use.
  • Subprocessors do not have access to Customer Data (for example, text entered by the user into Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides) unless you specifically share this data with the support agent during the support case.

Retention and deletion

You can initiate a case deletion by contacting Support and the Support team will review the request. In rare cases, Support will need to retain certain information for an extended period of time for legitimate business or legal purposes—for example, in case there's a billing dispute or otherwise to comply with our legal obligations. 

Access to your Support interactions

If you need access to your support interactions, and if those interactions aren't available in the Support Portal, you can request a copy of your support interactions by opening a standard support case. You can also request a copy by signing in to the Google Admin console to contact the Google Cloud Data Protection Team—using the form that's available under Account settingsand thenLegal & Compliance. You can request communications including call recordings, chat transcripts and email communications for the case you need information for.

How Google Cloud Support uses support case data

Google Cloud Support uses support case data to keep a consistent record of your support issues. This can be informative when addressing future support issues or situations related to your customer account. Google Cloud Support also leverages past cases while encountering new issues for other customers. Past cases serve as examples to inform similar support interactions in the future. Additionally, Google Cloud Support uses support case data in accordance with the Google Cloud Privacy Notice, including to conduct quality reviews, build automated solutions for customer responses, and improve the customer support experience.

How resold customers receive Support help

If you purchase Google Workspace from a Google reseller, you can receive Support help related to your account, domain settings, and billing directly from the reseller.

Depending on the Workspace license that's purchased from the reseller, there are several ways to contact Google Cloud Support. For example, you can directly open a support case through the Google Admin console (where you can choose to include your reseller in the support ticket), or a reseller can open a support ticket on your behalf through the Customer Care Portal. For the latter, you need to give the reseller permission (limitations apply) to access your account and help them to troubleshoot your cases. We suggest that you reach an agreement with your reseller on a policy for accessing the Google Admin console. This enables you to access support cases that your reseller files on your behalf. 

If you have a separate, standalone support contract with the reseller, it's the reseller’s responsibility to provide the appropriate level of support. Google Cloud does not have control or visibility into these agreements. If you have a direct Support contract with your reseller, we suggest that you apply privacy best practices during your support interactions with them.

Access control

As part of Google's long-term commitment to security and transparency, you can use Access Transparency to review logs of actions taken by Google personnel when accessing user content. You have access to this service if you have a supported edition.

With Access Transparency, user-generated content is text entered into Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other apps. By reviewing the Access Transparency logs, you can verify that Google is accessing user content for valid business reasons, such as fixing a problem or responding to a request. When accessing user content for troubleshooting purposes, Support agents are required to enter a valid business reason—such as an active support case number or ePIN for the cases they have owned. You'll see the following justification reason in the description field: CUSTOMER_INITIATED_SUPPORT

Data protection expertise

Google has a dedicated internal Support team to answer questions on privacy and data protection to ensure Google Workspace services can help meet your compliance needs. To contact the Google Cloud Data Protection Team, sign in to the Google Admin console, and then go to this contact page.

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