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When Google owns you


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#1 Greybird

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 06:18 PM

"Software as a Service" or "cloud computing" is the new byword, with applications and services hosted on Web providers doing what had once been talked about as "network computing." And making it less necessary to buy and run software on your own computer.

Why shell out for e-mail or wrestle with Outlook, when Gmail can handle it for you for free, and with universal access from any Webbed computer? Or you can let Google handle your word processing, spreadsheets, and a host of other actions, with free or low-cost ways to create worldwide collaboration on a project.

You just have to trust Google — not to mess up your master account.

Chris Brogan's blog reports in detail about how one man was suddenly locked out of the considerable portion of his life that he'd committed to Google's servers, without explanation or, for quite some time, amelioration.

Two of many cogent commentaries about how Google, in effect, disowned one of its most loyal and, in this case, paid customers are here and here at ZDnet.

It can't be stressed enough, folks: As convenient as these Web-based services are, you CANNOT trust them — or any third party — with the sole access to your personal or business data, from e-mail to spreadsheets to databases.

They not only are vulnerable to those third parties breaking off the relationship, which they have nearly unlimited abilities to do, in the user contract that you probably didn't bother to read fully *sigh*.

They also are more readily available to the minions of the growing police and surveillance State. Google and all other such companies will provide your data and full user records to anyone from any police agency who comes along with a subpoena, or (post-PATRIOT-Act) a secret National Security Letter. If they are seeking to examine your own computer or server, however, they need a search warrant, which is usually at least an order of magnitude more difficult to obtain.

The most practical and likely difficulty, though, is that Google or whoever can readily bollix up their own user records. It can get corrected, but to prove that you are the bona fide user involved can take dozens of hours. Most such precautions on their part are needed, to make sure that a casual cracker can't easily take over your account.

Personal backups are always necessary. You can't ignore that needed element of caution in order to simply imbibe Webbed convenience.

Discussions of personal experiences and tactics would be quite useful here!

Edited by Greybird, 08 August 2008 - 06:20 PM.





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