Sep 15 2009   2:06PM GMT

Who REALLY Owns Your Data

Arian Eigen Heald Arian Eigen Heald Profile: Arian Eigen Heald

I had an up-close-and-personal experience today of “cloud computing.” It’s worth thinking about.

I had just finished reading Bruce Schneier’s essay on cloud computing, (which is a great read, by the way) and was considering the following point he recently penned in his Cryptogram:

As we move more of our data onto cloud computing platforms such as Gmail and Facebook, and closed proprietary platforms such as the Kindle and the iPhone, deleting data is much harder.

You have to trust that these companies will delete your data when you ask them to, but they’re generally not interested in doing so. Sites like these are more likely to make your data inaccessible than they are to physically delete it. Facebook is a known culprit: actually deleting your data from its servers requires a complicated procedure that may or may not work. And even if you do manage to delete your data, copies are certain to remain in the companies’ backup systems. Gmail explicitly says this in its privacy notice.

What if those companies delete your data because they don’t like it? Or some copyright is at issue and they “can’t” let you keep it, such as Amazon’s now notorious “removal” of the Orwell books due to copyright issues (How ironic is it that Orwell’s books were deleted???)

So, I’m logging into Skydrive this morning because I’m building an online collection of tools I can access when I’m on the road or someplace where I don’t have my computer or USB drives with me.

I’d uploaded about 3 gigs of tools, which might be considered by some to be “hacking” tools, including Cain and Abel, which (AV constantly tries to delete). But today, those directories and programs are nowhere to be found.

Big Brother Microsoft evidently doesn’t approve. And this is why we should all consider that if our data in the “cloud” doesn’t pass the vendor’s muster, our data will be deleted.

I’ll stick with my computer, for now.

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