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Stallman’s Cloud Concerns – Fight for Laws or Against Technology?

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Stallman’s Cloud Concerns – Fight for Laws or Against Technology?

The release of the Chrome OS for pre-beta testing has unleashed concerns over data control and privacy. Nonetheless, technology is progressing steadily toward the cloud in every aspect.

The Guardian reported Richard Stallman’s words (and we quoted some of his criticisms here). Stallman, an industry guru and brilliant mind, calls cloud computing an attitude — and specifically, a careless one.

He stated that the reason for the advancement of cloud computing, despite the potential ramifications over data control, were that “there’s a sucker born every minute.” His concerns were fairly explicit: Governments can seize cloud data without a warrant. You, the owner or creator of the data, may not even know about it.

Let’s not hesitate for a moment as we acknowledge that these complaints are legitimate. The entire concept of due process — of knowing what you are being charged of, of having certain rights and control over your property, and more — is disrupted. The reason is a legal technicality of ownership; data stored in the cloud isn’t your property, but that of the company hosting the servers.

This was a legal grey area when the Internet came to be, but thanks to cases like the YouTube fiasco, we have a strong and dangerous precedent on data control. But is the solution really to halt the progress of technology, especially when the cloud offers so many advantages across the board?

There is another option: to fight for the creation of a new set of laws which recognize virtual space as belonging not to the owner of physical storage devices, but to the registered account holder. This leap wouldn’t be easy, as it signifies the legal recognition of the Internet as a location rather than a technology. However, as the cloud era approaches, this legal shift may be the only way to maintain our right to privacy.

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Rob D Young

Rob has been insatiably obsessed with Google, search engine technology, and the trends of the web-based world since he began ... [Read full bio]

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