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FSF GNU Founder Warns of Loss of Data Control In The Cloud
engine




msg:4242356
 4:56 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

FSF GNU Founder Warns of Loss of Data Control In The Cloud [guardian.co.uk]
Google's new cloud computing ChromeOS looks like a plan "to push people into careless computing" by forcing them to store their data in the cloud rather than on machines directly under their control, warns Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the operating system GNU.

Two years ago Stallman, a computing veteran who is a strong advocate of free software via his Free Software Foundation, warned that making extensive use of cloud computing was "worse than stupidity" because it meant a loss of control of data.

Now he says he is increasingly concerned about the release by Google of its ChromeOS operating system, which is based on GNU/Linux and designed to store the minimum possible data locally. Instead it relies on a data connection to link to Google's "cloud" of servers, which are at unknown locations, to store documents and other information.


 

incrediBILL




msg:4242375
 5:25 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Where has this guy been hiding with his head in the sand?

Most people have already given control to the cloud with gmail, google docs, calendar, blogger, so on and so forth, and not only are people notoriously bad about making backups, Google doesn't provide any easy way to back it all up in the first place.

Want to download Google docs one a time? I didn't think so.

The upside to the cloud is you drop your netbook, you loose nothing.

Turn on a new netbook and your cloud awaits, unless you had been working offline for days then too bad ;)

engine




msg:4242378
 5:40 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The update of 'the cloud' will become even more mainstream when the Chrome os becomes a reality.
I just don't get it that so many people have not thought about their data, so he's correct to warn people.

incrediBILL




msg:4242380
 5:46 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Millions of people already use Android which already stores your stuff in the cloud, and that didn't cause him to wake up?

He's just trying to make some PR noise after the cat is already long out of the bag.

jecasc




msg:4242390
 6:09 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Millions of people already use Android which already stores your stuff in the cloud, and that didn't cause him to wake up?


Actually it says in the article:

Two years ago Stallman, a computing veteran who is a strong advocate of free software via his Free Software Foundation, warned that making extensive use of cloud computing was "worse than stupidity" because it meant a loss of control of data. Now he says he is increasingly concerned about the release by Google of its ChromeOS operating system, (...)

kaled




msg:4242397
 6:16 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Cloud computing represents a Darwin moment that will divide people by intelligence. Each side will think the other is dumb - I know which side I'm on.

Kaled.

scooterdude




msg:4242409
 6:50 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

okay i am a luddite on this one, I want my data with me rather than in hands of a company that might be my rival tomorrow, or my supplier whom I am paying vast summs of money,,

Tis amazing what data a sufficiently cleared techie can access


never ceases to amaze me how easily folk accept something if its done my a 'kool' company

wheel




msg:4242410
 6:51 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Most people have already given control to the cloud with gmail, google docs, calendar, blogger, so on and so forth

Off the top of my head, I know 0 people that use cloud computing. I don't. Nobody in my family does.

engine




msg:4242423
 7:11 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The risks include loss of legal rights to data if it is stored on a company's machine's rather than your own, Stallman points out: "In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company's machines instead of your own. The police need to present you with a search warrant to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company's server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant."



This is such a well put reminder for all. I just think that most people have no idea about where their data is stored, and about access. The recent Gawker hack [webmasterworld.com] is an excellent reminder of why cloud computing is good for things that are unimportant.

aspdaddy




msg:4242424
 7:14 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

All l I can think is that he hasnt actually used cloud systems much and seen the high level of control of security possible. By default people generally do not like what they do not understand.

It used to be the same deal 10 years ago trying to convice companies to outsource servers, who though web & email were securer behind a fence with thier name on - now its accepted as the norm to put these somewhere thats actually safe.

incrediBILL




msg:4242428
 7:26 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The update of 'the cloud' will become even more mainstream when the Chrome os becomes a reality.


Unless Chrome OS machines retail for less than $350 most people won't care.

If you give them away for $99, then Chrome OS has a running chance of becoming dominant.

Most people running netbooks never power them off anyway, they just put them in sleep or hibernate, which restores my Win 7 machine to a running state in about about 20-30s, which is fast enough.

My netbook already came with some Web OS crapware that I disabled immediately, no need.

scooterdude




msg:4242429
 7:28 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

accepted as the norm where ?

most companies i know have their email on local servers, many only have dns records on their isps, websites are only hosted elswhere while they are merely contact brochures or contain nothin of critical importance to them

an yes, i see a lot off busnesses

Hugene




msg:4242459
 9:21 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The cloud has had me scratching my head for some time now.

Of one, all my web-business related stuff is already online: web servers hosting my sites/source code files, MySQL DB's holding the data for the sites, webmails & gmail holding all my emails (work documents). All these elements have little value when taken on their own and outside if the webserver itself.

Electronic personal data, a lot of it is an webmail stored as emails.

Backups, I do have and make regularly, but it is a hassle, and I start to trust the current web-locations of my stuff more and more. Psychical locations burn, hard-disks fail, CD's lose data.

So is all my stuff in the cloud already? I think that most webmasters the answer is yes. Maybe not Amazon's or Google's, but is definitely not on our machines. For testing, I don't even run apache and the rest on my machine, I upload and test directly on a server.

Yet, I am feeling very uneasy about the fact that I might loose control of my data, especially of my personal one in gmail. Because of that I still maintain backups, digital copies and physical copies of important docs.

I think the cloud is unavoidable, but I think it needs to be legislated better: the same protection you have at home should be received on the web too.

httpwebwitch




msg:4242468
 9:45 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The flow of my work is 100% reversed from what it was 10 years ago. Used to be that I created sites on my C:, then pushed them to the server. Now I work on the server (or in a sandbox server), and download finished work back to my C: for safekeeping.

Much of my stuff is on rented servers that are, through maintained by someone else, actually mine insomuchas no random Microsoft cubiclejockey is going to be poking their nose into it.

As for 3rd party cloud storage like Gmail, Hotmail, SkyDrive, Amazon S3, Flickr, Facebook, etc - I trust the places that I store my data, because they haven't yet given me any reason not to. It's a fragile trust though.

Truly irreplacable data like digital family photos, I make sure they are burned on multiple CDR's and stored in a moisture-free fireproof hideaway

weeks




msg:4242475
 10:03 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I gotta say that Bill is right on, at least from where I sit. I've been urging my customers to get away from owning big boxes.

Funny story:

I do not "do" network stuff, but as a consultant I get dragged into sometimes. Yesterday, in the office of one of my clients, I hear more complaining about getting the new server up and running. Then he tell me this, "I just found out that while they sold me this hardware and software, they moved all of their own stuff to the cloud. They don't eat their own dog food."

Lovely. Meanwhile, the new Exchange server sits in office I use when I'm there, cold as a stone, as it has since August.

JAB Creations




msg:4242498
 10:43 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The cloud at best may compliment data you don't consider important or private. Freedom is about responsibility, you store your own data and you back up your own data. The moment you introduce a second party to the equation you burden yourself with bureaucracy.

- John

frontpage




msg:4242505
 11:23 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Chrome OS is doomed according to experts so it might not matter.


Gmail creator Paul Buchheit gives Google's Chrome OS a vote of no confidence


[webmasterworld.com...]

wheel




msg:4242506
 11:40 pm on Dec 14, 2010 (gmt 0)


The cloud at best may compliment data you don't consider important or private.

All that X2. That's why I think things will have to change before 'the cloud' becomes a viable and widely adopted business tool.

dauction




msg:4242540
 2:00 am on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I keep my important info local..why on earth would I keep my life on some "cloud" so others can go snooping around..

Yes naturally we have bits and pieces strewn about all over but it is the diversity of locations that maintains some security ..the most important , most core information should be held locally imo

incrediBILL




msg:4242557
 3:10 am on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I gotta say that Bill is right on, at least from where I sit. I've been urging my customers to get away from owning big boxes.


You actually don't agree with me then :)

I'm OK with the cloud on my cell phone, not OK with the cloud on any mission critical task.

Until those cloud services (Google) come with real live tech support where you can get someone on the phone to fix your problem, even if you have to pay, I won't host a site or email in the cloud.

I'm OK with technologically challenged people, even small companies with no IT staff, using cloud computing devices because it does a lot for them, including synching and backup, most of which they'd be mystified or ignore in the first place.

However, I run my own dedicated boxes, my own email servers, have been doing so for years and completely happy with it.

Note: when you read about people's accounts getting hacked or screaming about being locked out of gmail, I'm not one of them :)

Chrome OS is doomed according to experts so it might not matter.


The experts also claimed Android was doomed, had no future, and now Android devices outsell everything in the phone business.

Price will be the deciding factor IMO, nothing else.

GaryK




msg:4242596
 6:36 am on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Most people have already given control to the cloud with gmail,
The risks include loss of legal rights to data if it is stored on a company's machine's rather than your own, Stallman points out: "In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company's machines instead of your own. The police need to present you with a search warrant to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company's server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant."

I wonder if today's ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals applies to Gmail and other cloud-based e-mail providers?

Appeals Court Holds that Email Privacy Protected by Fourth Amendment [eff.org]

bird




msg:4242645
 12:37 pm on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Nothing wrong with cloud computing in most cases.

Using the cloud as a persistent storage medium, however, is an entirely different can of worms. You just shouldn't do it for anything you really care about.

aspdaddy




msg:4242674
 2:55 pm on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have just read the article and am in fact a little sympathetic to his point of view.

I do think he is totally out of touch with business computing - cloud is just a natural progression of outsourcing & virtualisation & is here to stay.

But in light of the recent attacks on wikileaks I think anyone with similar risks may want to avoid cloud. The other 99.99% of businesses that dont have "police accesing data without a search warrant" on thier risk register dont need to worry.

come with real live tech support where you can get someone on the phone to fix your problem, even if you have to pay, I won't host a site or email in the cloud.


They do, Google apps premium has SLA & phone support. Buy you dont need it if you use local sync tools, salesforce & ms crm have had this for years

wheel




msg:4242688
 3:33 pm on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

The other 99.99% of businesses that dont have "police accesing data without a search warrant" on thier risk register dont need to worry.

What? I don't need to worry about my email or client records? I absolutely am concerned about those things, and even as a small business won't outsource that to someone else - particularly someone else over whom I have no control or likely contact.

Scott_F




msg:4242702
 4:03 pm on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Cloud-based data storage may represent another example of folks willing to give up control of their privacy and personal property in exchange for the benefits the technology delivers. It's NOT an example of that where users don't understand where there data is stored.

If you don't think that your cloud data isn't easily available and accessible to the state, see this article:

[networkworld.com...]

Government entities routinely obtain personal data from providers for $25-$30 per user.

kaled




msg:4242711
 4:39 pm on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, here's a legal question...

Suppose Acme Inc "outsourced" its data to iCloud or whatever and there was a security breach somewhere. Let's say iCloud claimed it was not their fault and Acme also claimed it was not their fault, who should be legally responsible?

If a court case determined that iCloud was liable, they would have to charge so much to cover their legal liabilities that the whole business model would likely collapse.

Or suppose private data was outsourced and escaped to the public domain or was stolen by criminals, unless iCloud had been approved by the authorities in that country, Acme would be held liable for negligence.

Irrespective of the logistical advantages or disadvantages of cloud computing, until the legal problems are sorted out, it's hard to see how any sensible company could make much use of it. At school, the classic excuse is "the dog ate my homework" - I cannot see tax authorities anywhere in the world accepting the excuse "the cloud lost my accounts".

And then there's the issue of transferring data from one provider to another - that will have to be standardized.

And then suppose it looks like there is some money to be made, every Tom, Dick and Harry will try to get in on the act, which will drive down prices, which will drive down profits which will drive down security and reliability.

So we are being asked to believe that, with all these problems that cloud computing has a future for commercial data - do me a favour!

And then, suppose a man with a digger cuts through your company internet connection, then what do you do?

And then, we are being warned about the dangers of cyber-terrorism and espionage - centralising all that data sure makes life easier for the bad guys!

And what if someone manages to crash the whole internet? The world won't come to an end if shopping and p**n sites are inaccessible for a few days, but if companies started using the cloud the economic cost would be astronomical - the incentive for terrorists would be huge.

So, unless someone out there can shoot down or solve ALL the arguments and problems I just put forward (and plenty more besides) the cloud has a very bleak future for commercial data - and those that do use it for commercial data probably have an even bleaker future.

Kaled.

mhansen




msg:4242765
 6:28 pm on Dec 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Disclaimer... I will never give up my sense of security and hard drives! :-)

But... The reality is... the ONLY people who give 2 cents of care about Chrome, or the Cloud, or whatever other funny catch-phrase gets attached to it, are people who ALREADY use and are aware of technology.

Mom, Pop, and the Tweenagers, the people that Google and other cloud players need to get buy-in for success, they don't care, they just want to play farmville, chat with family and friends, check their stocks and do a bit of word processing every now and again. Most of which is already done in the "cloud". Give away the laptop for $19/month and make it an "Ad and Info" harvesting machine... people will be all over it.

Applications in the cloud are great... storing sensitive information and data, well that's kinda not great when Google, the master of information is involved. 10 Years ago Google said... let our little spider-bots index your content and store copies for faster use in our referral/search engine, its built for users. We can help you!

Fast forward, Eric Schmidt says... well maybe if you didn't want it to be found, you shouldn't have done it. Oh, and your content, well we never meant to benefit you anyway, we benefit OUR visitors, and if wrapping our ads around your content benefits them, so be it. We do no evil, trust us.

If you think Google is too far into your life now, just wait until Aunt Megs pictures show up online somewhere, or your type of car, or net worth is shown next to a search for your name for 72% of the people who search for you, well, because Google knew that you would probably tell that 72% anyway, based on your friend profile.

Not for me... o

J_RaD




msg:4243149
 3:49 pm on Dec 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

hard drives are cheap, buy them.

want access to your data on the go? windows home server, pogoplug. they have solutions people you don't just have to dump your data into other peoples hands..you can make your own "private cloud"

Mike_Feury




msg:4243906
 4:41 am on Dec 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

How come nobody has mentioned encryption yet? Easy to do routinely afaics, and wouldn't it block anyone except possibly govt agencies?

But I guess Stallman's concern is "Mom, Pop, and the Tweenagers" who will give it all away. That's a legit concern.

kaled




msg:4243952
 12:16 pm on Dec 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I understand encryption - what problems does it solve exactly and at what cost? I don't mean in terms of money I mean in terms of creating other problems.

People who like the concept of the cloud should familiarise themselves with the old adage that there's no such thing as a free lunch, sometimes expressed as, you get what you pay for, or you don't get owt for nowt (Northern England).

Sure, there are plenty of freebies to be had on the internet, but when you're in business, your data is often your most valuable commodity. Stock can be easily replaced. Personnel can be tricky but a serious data loss can bankrupt a company and will almost never be covered by insurance.

Of course, you can argue that it's safer on the cloud and maybe it is with respect to loss by system failure, but by any other measure it most certainly is not (e.g. reliability of access or certainty that it won't be copied).

Here's another problem to add to ones I suggested above...

What happens if you fire someone who has access to your company data on the cloud? The risks of data theft are guaranteed to be that much greater.

Kaled.

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