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The Cloud

This xkcd comic appeared under a different title, but even if Instagram was the recent case that brought up discussions like that, you can say the same for almost any cloud service, including the likes of Facebook, proprietary app stores, Dropbox, and a ton of others:

Just look for example at this piece of the terms of yet another cloud service that I was asked to sign on recently:
You retain full ownership to your Content, but you agree to grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, irrevocable, transferable, perpetual, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, edit, translate, make derivatives, display and distribute such Content in connection with providing the Service to you and other users in accordance with your settings on the Service. In connection with providing the Service, we may modify or adapt your Content in order to transmit, display or distribute it over computer networks and in various media and/or make changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to any requirements or limitations of any networks, devices, services or media.

So, basically, the cloud service can do anything with any content put in there. Anything put on there cannot be a "secret" and must be seen as being public - and of course the content and any data derived from it (like behavior, etc.) can and will be sold to others - after all, the cloud provider needs to earn money with something.

A long-standing saying about the cloud is that "if you aren't paying for the product, you are the product being sold". Everyone creating a service wants to feed him/herself and make a living, at least, and the money for that needs to come from something. I'm not saying I'm against cloud services, they enable some cool stuff at times, but you always should be aware that you hand over control to the service provider. And I feel better with any service that's telling me how they're generating the money to enable a living for their employees. Those that don't are the ones that make me feel worried when "putting my stuff in their garage".

If you want to keep control over your content yourself, there's of course a number of open and distributed alternative services out there that you can look into, for example Diaspora*, Open Web Apps, Persona, OpenPhoto, ownCloud, and others. :)

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on January 8th, 2013 21:58 | Tags: Cloud, open networks | 3 comments | TrackBack



tom jones

so, we are all Mozilla's product?
i didn't pay for firefox.. i don't pay for Sync.. ditto for my (free) extensions on AMO.. so, am i just a product to be sold by mozilla to google (and now facebook)?

of course not, don't be ridiculous! and no need to explain to me the difference in mozilla's privacy policies, and the importance of the non-profit values -- i'm reading this via p.m.o, i have already bought in on the manifesto.

but i'm tired of this "you are the product" meme, because it's getting stale, and it was bullshit from the start. the scale of internet enables so much great and positive things that weren't possible before, or to people who couldn't afford them before: firefox, google and facebook, to name just a few already mentioned here.

i'll skip firefox, and just remind you about the (free) search across the total sum of human knowledge, available to everyone, across the globe, absolutely FREE, or if you don't know how to install ABP, at the price of some ads, or even god-forbid, tracking (for which nobody ever showed ANY ACTUAL HARM, to ANYONE, btw).

and although i don't personally like or use facebook, i can appreciate that it brings a lot of benefit to those who do, and that most of those benefits comes from "everyone" using it, which could never be true for a paid service.

(i hope i don't need to explain the role of twitter in recent uprisings against oppressive regimes around the world)

i'm not defending egregious terms of service (they are a symptom of other problems), but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater..
2013-01-09 02:03


Of course you're being sold, Tom. Why do you think Google pays Mozilla and Opera, for example, for search traffic?
2013-01-09 02:29


External services
Unfortunately, Persona in its current state is very much a cloud service - you can't realistically use it completely free of Mozilla's server yet. In particular, getting your own verifier up will have issues with all the email-based accounts being shimmed on Mozilla's servers. There's no planned migration path to a different login on a separate domain, either, so if you start with a shimmed ID using a domain (that is, the right part of the ID) you don't control, you can't shift it to something else either.

That said, it's certainly a lot better than, say, Facebook Connect...
2013-01-09 05:51

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