back to article Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers

Microsoft has lost the first round in its fight to stop the US authorities from seizing customer data stored inside its overseas data centers. Following a two-hour hearing before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, District Judge Loretta Preska ruled that a US warrant ordering Microsoft to …

Anonymous Coward

Damned if they do and damned if they don't!

Not to mention clashing with an EU ruling that appears to state the opposite. This situation should also prove interesting. Break out the gunboats!

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Re: Damned if they do and damned if they don't!

Not really. It just raises the cost.

I'd expect all data to be synced to multiple data-centres and T&C's in all usage agreements saying that you don't mind data being stored in the US. This is Cloud, so the idea is that you don't care where the data is stored.

There are two parts to this:

a) Explicit Cloud usage. You don't use the cloud to store medical data for example. That's obvious and simple to deal with.

b) "sneaky Cloud." That's things like storing all your search history from Bing/Google and siphoning off all your contact data from your address book for "synchronisation purposes."

If I had important sensitive data, I wouldn't be happy with this ruling. Ms Merkel's email is going to be available to the US government anyway without spies doing anything in Germany, if she's using Apple, MS or Google email. That's just annoying and will likely drive alternative tech companies. SmallCo might use Outlook 365, but no-one larger is going to touch it and without enterprise buy-in, the money for cloud development will be in short supply.

Good.

(Of course Ms Merkel won't be using non-government servers anyway. That means that there is a space for a decent smartphone with no ties to US companies. Jailbroken Android? FirefoxOS?

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Re: Damned if they do and damned if they don't!

Mozilla is a US company. They could be forced to hand over info about Firefox IDs.

Help me Jolla. You are my only hope.

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Re: Damned if they do and damned if they don't!

Microsoft (Azure) T&Cs allow users to limit storage by geographical area (e. g., European, Asian, American), with some exceptions; and like all or nearly all companies, their privacy rules have a law enforcement exception. Within an area, or within the world if the customer fails to limit to a geographical area, Microsoft can move the data around as it sees fit.

I've never been a fan of "the cloud", but can't see there is a good reason not to store arbitrary data there, provided you encrypt on your premises and before transmission any data you would not want to post on a publicly accessible web page. Processing in the cloud is a different matter, as it involves outsourcing your security, accepting the associated risk, which may be either greater or less than the risk of doing it on your own.

There seems to be quite a bit of conflation in this thread about legal process and espionage, the latter being generally illegal in the target country while possibly legal in the one doing the spying. A foreign government official, including a head of state (like Ms. Merkel) could be an espionage target for various reasons, but it is unlikely that a US judge would issue a warrant to compel production of their communications. I do not think it is impossible, though, and there might be circumstances in which a warrant for communications would result in production of government officials' communications even when the target is not an official.

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Anonymous Coward

We DO have more than two judges, right?

Anybody recognize her name but not quite able to put a finger on it? Loretta Preska was the presiding judge for Jeremy Hammond (Stratfor) and Hector Monsegur (Sabu). Look, I get it, Hammond broke the law, but she sentenced him to 10 years and didn't even actually make contact with the wrist of the guy that arguably entrapped him. I want her and Lucy Koh to fight to the death before either of them gets to hear another precedent-setting case that they issue a pants-on-head ruling on. I hope they both lose, our nation would have a higher ratio of responsible adults:childish autocrats.

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US Tech Companies

Even if "uncle sam" wasn't reading the private info, Google, Facebook etc do.

Google, MS, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Linkedin etc regard users as something to be exploited. Boycott the US Tech companies anyway.

"Free" usually has a catch.

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Re: US Tech Companies

Google, Microsoft and Facebook reading my e-mail in order to advertise at me doesn't affect me much. They aren't likely to read my e-mail for industrial espionage purposes, because if I could catch them at it, they would lose everything.

They can't use what they learn there to hassle me when I try to enter the US to get some business done, or cover news as a reporter. They can't use what they learn there to try to prevent me from doing business via some form of protectionism.

Corporate snooping on my data for the purposes of advertisement just doesn't mean much, excepting that the adverts might be a little non-opportune and mildly embarrassing in the wrong company. Oh well.

The US government can ruin your entire life or put your company out of business based on misinterpreting what other people choose to send you in an e-mail. That is a problem.

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Re: US Tech Companies

The US government can ruin your entire life or put your company out of business based on misinterpreting what other people choose to send you in an e-mail. That is a problem.

You get it. A lot of us get it but I think most people don't understand this.

For example, perhaps the gov decide to go after someone you've had an exchange of harmless emails with. To get to them, they will screw with you. And it's not just the US government that would do that. Governments only care about themselves and not the people they serve.

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Re: US Tech Companies

So whose email do you use then?

I use google and yahoo and much though I don't like the US snooping what am I really going to do about it? Which provider will not be tapped by the 5 eyes, especially as I reside in a 5 eyes nation? Even if I did not it seems that GCHQ has a large part of the pipework tapped. Sure, I could encrypt my email but then everyone would either ignore what I send or reply with "send it in plain text you stupid bastard". This is what happens when something so ubiquitous was insecure by design.

I admit to not being too knowledgeable in this area but, given the cert authorities fall mainly under 5 eyes regimes, how much is there they cannot generally access short of using full gpg style email encryption?

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Re: US Tech Companies

I use a Canadian provider, as I'm Canadian. Canada is Five Eyes, yes...but the US of A still can't just scan my e-mail "just because". Our laws very clearly prohibit that.

Now, if the US wants to use a warrant, my country will comply. I'm actually okay with that. If I've done something to draw targeted attention, then by all means, they should be doing their jobs and checking up on me.

But it's the dragnet surveillance that gets me. I'm a mostly law abiding citizen* who honestly tries to do the right thing. I make mistakes. I sometimes go a little far in having fun or asserting my independence. But I'm not a threat to anyone.

So why should my e-mails be scanned by a robot as part of a massive international fishing expedition and then taken wildly out of context and used against me? Why do I have to get hassled at the border when all I want to do is go to a conference and report on the events there?

I have a friend who lives in Washington. He's a systems administrator. Why does the border patrol flag up that I'm going to stop by his place for drinks on my way to San Francisco as being "obviously business related"? Seriously you guys, I met him on Spiceworks. He's a friend. We're going to have some fucking beers. It's the 21st century, that's perfectly normal!

Why does the US border patrol even have the power to snoop on my e-mail and determine that I am going to meet him? What the fucking fuck? Again: I'm not a threat to anyone, and there was no reason I would be "targeted". It was just caught up in dragnet fishing and then used against me.

So yeah, I switched my e-mail to something local. What the US is up to first of all is questionable under my nation's laws at best, and is illegal at work. More to the point, it's not okay.

My solutions aren't perfect. And maybe there aren't any good answers. But the only vote we foreigners have is the one attached to our wallets. So let's vote.

*laws are structured in such a way that it's impossible for anyone to fully comply with the law.

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Re: US Tech Companies

I decided to go with a non-free non-USA email provider earlier this year. The email provider I chose seems to value users privacy, based on the research I did.

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Re: US Tech Companies

@Trevor_Pott: "I sometimes go a little far in having fun or asserting my independence. But I'm not a threat to anyone."

Hmm... Trevor, can you spot a contradiction in what you wrote?

Seems like any assertion of independence by anyone - a person, a company, or a country - is now treated as a threat.

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Re: US Tech Companies

"Hmm... Trevor, can you spot a contradiction in what you wrote?

Seems like any assertion of independence by anyone - a person, a company, or a country - is now treated as a threat."

I can assert all I want, that doesn't make my independence a fact. It's those who try to go beyond asserting into "enforcement" that become threats to the powers that be.

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Re: US Tech Companies

@Trevor_Pott - You really do articulate the issues involved in this well. It sounds as though you have had first hand experience of the intentional law of unintended consequences America's paranoia creates. So you're in an ideal position to continue to inform us and to describe the issues. You also seem to be providing details that confirm what I suspect is an instinctive reaction in many of us to these issues.

Thanks very much.

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Re: So whose email do you use then

My own.

Web site hosting + email does not cost all that much, in the end, and you don't even have to bother with the web site if you don't want to.

I have my own web site hosted by a company in Switzerland, ironically enough. My web host guarantees email hosting and anti-spam/anti-virus measures in the basic package, for free.

No, I am not totally paranoid, and I took up this website pseudo-hobby years ago before all the hoopla about Snowden and the NSA. It just so happens that now, in the post-Snowden era that we all live in, I am quite happy that I made that choice.

Oh - and I don't leave my mail on the servers, I download it all and keep it locally.

Eat that, NSA/GCHQ goons !

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Re: US Tech Companies

Oh but Trevor, you are threat. I feel threatened, for one ;)

Also you're a mean drunk, so when you have a few beers, you're bound to hit somebody.

Lastly, you're a magician who has (you say so yourself) the ability to make beers fuck. That scares the shit out of me, so I want to detain you, just because.

It's a joke, alright... But this could be how the USofA border patrol reacts to seeing you post something on a website that is hosted by a US organization called Rackspace. Therefore, they (the US Gov) have the right to make sure you're a nice and good citizen and eat the crap they (the US Gov) feed you about such nice things as Patriotism and War Crimes and TerrorIsm

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Anonymous Coward

Re: US Tech Companies

Or as Orwell once put it

"War is Peace",

"Freedom is Slavery",

"Ignorance is Strength",

"Visiting US Sys Admins is business".

Some of us do get it Trevor, so keep shouting.

I just wish more people in the US would get it, particularly the political establishment.

Until then, remember

"CAPDAMUzmob7i4F0UbOZgQHiaCLuEa9rrd is none of your f*ing business !"

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Windows

Re: So whose email do you use then

"Eat that, NSA/GCHQ goons !"

The chaps and chapesses in Cheltenham probably have.

At work: I loaded Chrome to check the appearance of a Web page I'm writing. The popup thingy informed me that the Google Hangouts application is running and logged in... I'm using a different browser now.

The sky won't fall because of this case (which will no doubt trundle through various levels of the legal system for years) but the long term chill effect (drip-drip-drip in the background if you listen carefully) will accelerate very slightly.

Economic power is shifting southward. And that's that.

The tramp: Being totally unimportant has its virtues sometimes.

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Re: US Tech Companies

The Internet was not designed for (or against) security. Accordingly, it is incumbent on those with a great interest in privacy of the communications they pass on the Internet to provide their own. For most of us, most of the time, the imitation privacy that goes with "not of interest to any but the communicating individuals" together with "mixed in with a great bunch of other trash" is sufficient, at least judging by the widespread failure to incur the additional cost of bothering with encryption. Using commercial services leaves one exposed to the risks that someone will snatch the messages in transmission (possibly assisted by broken SSL - including compromised certificates) or from the servers (possibly by breaking any storage encryption or compelling production using legal process). The closest thing to a guarantee of privacy is end-to-end encryption using the likes of (Open)PGP. Even that, of course, is subject to the risk that the originating or destination computer is compromised, possibly by a government agency but more likely by a criminal organisation.

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Re: So whose email do you use then

@Pascal: You've missed my point entirely. Your email may not be susceptible to Google searches on its contents but it is still just as susceptible to 5 eyes dragnet surveillance. GCHQ has taps on (likely) every fibre landing in the UK. Have you looked at the submarine cable network recently? Pretty much most of it transits the UK. The other eyes can mop up the rest. Given this my point is that you only have security if your email is gpg/pgp'd - remember data transitting between Google data centres was unencrypted and tapped? It's likely that also applies for email server to email server. See the following...

http://superuser.com/questions/260002/why-are-email-transfers-between-mail-servers-often-not-encrypted-why-arent-use

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Thumb Up

It's for thwarting Putin's nefarious designs, so it's all good!

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Anonymous Coward

End of the cloud as we know it

At least for USA corporations trying to do businees outside USA. Who could have said that their own system would end up shooting themselves in both feet.

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Re: End of the cloud as we know it

Who could have said that their own system would end up shooting themselves in both feet.

Me. And a bunch of others.

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Subsidiaries are a core part of international business and one important part of this is that a subsidiary is a legally distinct entity. This means, amongst other things, that it must adhere to the local laws and regulations and also that its board must act in the best interests of the subsidiary, even if these are at odds with the best interests of the parent company.

In this case, if I am understanding it correctly, the data is stored and managed by the local subsidiary, and not directly by MS in the US.

I am no legal mind but it seems as though such a ruling would contradict the basic, legal principle of a subsidiary and thus undermine much of international business.

I mean, look at it from the other side - a subsidiary can engage in practices are legal in that country but might be illegal in the parent company's country. The parent is safe. This is why manufacturing companies can happily use CFCs and engage in all manner of ecologically unsound processes in their factories in developing nations but their US operations are not fined prosecuted.

If the local subsidiary of MS is refusing to provide access to the data, this may well be against the US laws, but they are not bound by those laws and, as a separate legal entity, Microsoft's US operations are not liable for that.

Happy to be corrected, but that is my understanding of the situation.

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Nope, you got the argument in a nutshell. And that's the argument the judge is throwing out.

To wit: the judge's argument is basically "it doesn't matter who owns the data, only who has access to that data. Microsoft US can access that data and so it must access that data if a US court says so, and no international warrant is required."

The repercussions of that surviving to set precedent are massive.

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I don't think that bit is correct, is it Trevor?

The judge is saying the MS control the data. Regardless of where it is located.

This is the same - but the opposite way around - as the EU A29 group asking the question of Google et al; "What about when people visit google.com and can still see the results the EU citizen has asked you to remove?"

I'm not sure anyone has seen any answers to those questions (more time was given, I think)? But this is the same issue (both ways). Companies operate globally but are incorporated (even if at group level) somewhere.

So both of these rows are about the political governance of globally trading companies (who hold data - and make money / pay taxes - across national borders).

I've put a in a couple of posts on the EU stuff - This will get very, very messy.

*

Since the 90s if not before, the web has been a system - way of life - built (not quite exclusively) on American investment; boat loads of investment. Everywhere else let a few US universities - and businesses spawned from them - get paid to set it all up ... No wonder everyone is now in the mess they are in.

Oh ... But there'll be no use for the Internet, if everyone stops wanting to share.

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Anonymous Coward

Dan, you're exactly right and as Trevor says that's the argument the judge has thrown out.

The logical response from any country robust enough to ignore US political pressure is one of two:

1) Mirror the US laws requiring access to global data from any company incorporated on their soil and dare local subsidiaries of US companies to ignore them with the threat of heavy fines and jail terms for local executives. The US would definitely throw a fit.

2) Refer to or create the kind of laws you mention which make it explicitly illegal for locally hosted data to be handled to the US without local judicial process. Dare US companies to ignore them, etc. etc.

I don't know if it's only recently that I've noticed or whether it's becoming a regular thing but relatively obscure judges in local US courts are making decisions which go far beyond a sensible remit and have global ramifications. Whatever the rights and wrongs the idea that a US judge many rungs below the Supreme Court could force Argentina into default against the wishes of most of its creditors is absurd.

UK libel laws are a similar tale. The assertion of global reach by local lawmakers really isn't going to work well for anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

"Whatever the rights and wrongs the idea that a US judge many rungs below the Supreme Court could force Argentina into default against the wishes of most of its creditors is absurd."

From elsewhere on the web:

"Judge Griesa has jurisdiction over the case because in the 1990s Argentina agreed in some of its bond contracts to litigate any issues in New York courts."

It's only absurd because Argentina allowed it to be absurd. They agreed to these terms because they wanted the money - they got greedy and now it's coing back to bite them in the ass.

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Anonymous Coward

In fairness to the Judge, she has given her ruling on how the law should be interpreted, but she has not required Microsoft to follow her ruling before her judgement can be appealed.

I imagine the ruling would also have been appealed if she had ruled the other way - clearly whichever law-enforcement agency asked for the warrant wants to have this power, rather than use what they call the "cumbersome" procedures that were put in place precisely to allow this type of cross-border criminal investigation to proceed.

Here's the Irish Times report on the case (before Preska issued her ruling):

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/technology/microsoft-fights-us-request-for-irish-held-data-1.1884243

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"Since the 90s if not before, the web has been a system - way of life - built (not quite exclusively) on American investment; boat loads of investment. Everywhere else let a few US universities - and businesses spawned from them - get paid to set it all up ... No wonder everyone is now in the mess they are in."

I doubt whether what you say is even true of the English-speaking internet. Also, unless we are restricting ourselves to the protocols rather than the hardware they run on, much of both the telecoms infrastructure and the devices that now hang off it have actually been manufactured outside the US and bought by people outside the US. The internet is more than just Intel, Google and Microsoft. Perhaps even US judges will come to realise this one day.

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Anonymous Coward

"Since the 90s if not before, the web has been a system..."

Certainly not before.

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On your side at this point

Then we'll get you in a headlock and you have to look really trapped but still fighting, the crowd should be on your side at that point.

Will it hurt?

It has to look as it hurts of the crowd won't buy it, slap the canvas a few times with your lawyers.

Then what?

Then you'll surprise us with a quick move and we'll go face down for a while, let the crowd enjoy that for about a week.

Then I pick up the paycheck?

Not right then but soon. You have to be seen to win the bout against a much bigger opponent but really the crowd secretly knows we let you win, it's all part of the game, keeping the status quo, then you leave the ring to chanting, shower and pay-check for being part of the team, OK?

Do I do promotional stuff?

Probably best not eh.

------------

Oops meant for another forum sorry

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Look Here now !!!

If people don't stop buggering about with this malarkey I'm going to Google Google and that will be the end of it !!!

Don't say I didn't warn you !!!

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Joke

Re: Look Here now !!!

"I'm going to Google Google and that will be the end of it !!!"

I recurse you !

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Why does this bring to mind

"All of your [data] base are belong to US"?.

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What if

What if the US would all of a sudden uphold the law of the UN Security Council and started to attack Israel for bombing the Gaza strip and innocent citizens.

That would certainly correct a morbid image loads of people have about the US, including about spying on data that really should be off-limits to the US, even for national security reasons. And if it there legally should be reason to believe that the data should be made available to the US legalese, than international law and order should be enough to request foreign help in such matters. Pretty much like Interpol: I have a criminal who is currently in your country. Please catch him for me. As opposed to: "I have a criminal who is currently in your country, and because I'm the US President, I will send people of my country to your country to commit a crime in your country, but because they are combatants of the US, these people cannot be detained by your country, because if you do, you commit a war crime..." (I'm writing this, dear NSA, as a piece of fiction. I do not express my own views here, merely state what a ficitve character who plays the role of US President in my upcoming book might say to a faraway Government.)

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair to Microsoft...

...they're trying to fight this in court.

Where are Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc.?

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Re: To be fair to Microsoft...

Google, Amazon, Apple, and others may not (at present) have had a similar warrant delivered to them and would be without standing in a court. It is not impossible that one or more of them has filed an Amicus brief, however; the article did not say one way or the other.

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Legal jurisdiction contract clause?

Surely the contract with the customers states which country's legal system has juridiction? When I read these things, the licence agreements for MS software stated that the contract was under US legal jurisdiction. If so then the US courts can order MS to divulge the information. If not then US courst have no jurisdiction.

I suspect that I am being more than a teensy-weensy little bit naive here. But the reason the Feds do not want to ask the Irish for a look, is that it woud be so much easier in the future not to have to ask any foreign government for permission to look at data stored in their terrirory. Just wait until they try that with the Russian Facebook account data ... (or anything else which now by Russian law must be held on servers in Russia).

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Vic
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Re: Legal jurisdiction contract clause?

Surely the contract with the customers states which country's legal system has juridiction?

That only determines which jurisdiction is used to sort out contractual spats; it does not absolve any party of the law of the land.

Vic.

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WTF?

If the US Government wants to nose around any HSBC account - no sweat - they are all on US Servers

If you do a Traceroute on your HSBC InterNet banking account you will discover the traffic flows across US Government-friendly AT&T cables and thence to the HSBC facilities. Of course, we all know that a simple Letter will let the FBI share your secrets - no judge needed.

So of you want to limit US access to your privates SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BANK and NOT the WORLD'S 'LOCAL' BANK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If the US Government wants to nose around any HSBC account - no sweat...

"If you do a Traceroute on your HSBC InterNet banking account you will discover the traffic flows across US Government-friendly AT&T cables and thence to the HSBC facilities".

Ah, serendipity! Thanks for explaining so clearly why HSBC has suddenly discovered that giving bank accounts to Muslims "falls outside its risk appetite".

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Ownership

Clearly MS need to outsource their Irish server farm to a locally-owned company. That way, they're renting the servers and the US has no claim on them.

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Welcome to Obama's America. She has one thing right, it's all about control with the Democrats. Control of your healthcare (1/6 of the US economy), control over your salt intake in New York. Recall the quote by Congressman John Dingell in 2010 about "controlling the people" (Google it) That's their mindset.

What do you think those five enormous buildings out in Arizona are for? The Obama regime admits they are keeping a record of every email, every word you type on chat rooms, on Twitter, and every email sent. And their justification is, "We aren't looking at them (wink wink) we're just keeping a copy in case, you know, sometime in the future we have to look through them to find out who the terrorists are".

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety ~ Benjamin Franklin

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Anonymous Coward

next ..

and for their next trick, the US courts will decide they have jurisdiction over anything done on computers running software from a US company.

If the court was in any way sensible and interested in being taking seriously, it would say that it has the right to view emails in other countries to prevent crime and it would balance that right with the responsibility to prevent those crimes. Rights and responsibilities go together. Instead, the court orders us to take it seriously even though no-one has ever heard of, let alone approved the appointment of, the judge in question.

Idiots.

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Holmes

Lessons

Is it just me, or is the only thing the US establishment learned from the Watergate scandal is "change the law to your side before you get caught with your hands in some-one elses filing cabinet"?

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"Control?"

Companies, courts and customers all need to step back and take a hard look at their assumptions.

First, and foremost, I personally try to avoid use of "the Cloud" like the plague. More on that in a subsequent post.

The global information network and Cloud storage and the computational power available to individuals are unprecedented in human history. Existing legal precedents. . . while critically important as a point of departure . . . are not going to serve us well.

An argument can be made that to function effectively both operationally and as a business model, the 'net and cloud storage need to be agnostic services, where the technology itself (network protocols, load-sharing, and memory allocation) "controls" how the content is routed and where it gets stored.

Responsibility for and ownership and control of the content of information and communications belong to the originator. In theory this is the case. However, the business practices of the big IT companies themselves undermine that argument.

A handful of IT companies enjoy virtual monopoly position. This lets them demand (extort may not be too strong a term) that users relinquish a wide range rights normally retained by originators.

I read "Privacy" statements carefully. I am generally appalled at the terms and conditions. Then I accept them because what other choice do I have? Also, to the extent that the revenue derived from what companies like Google and Microsoft do with my information reduces my cost, I benefit. There is, in fact, a quid-pro-quo.

The problem is that the resulting control over the use of the content undermines the companies' argument that they are simply providing computing and communications services. The fact that they extract a certain level of knowledge and control of content makes the demand for access by governmental authorities technically plausible.

Plausible, but an unparalleled catastrophe for individual rights and freedoms, and left unchecked, for the viability of the IT industry as it now exists. That is why companies, courts, and customers alike need to think this through more carefully.

By analogy consider a large self-storage facility. What those who govern are demanding is the right to rifle through every ones' storage units based on a suspicion that there may be a bit of contraband in one of them. What those who govern demand, the courts will ultimately give them.

Which for some reason brings to mind an absolutely hilarious bit some years back by a British group. If memory serves the name of the group was "Beyond the Fringe". The bit was entitled "Judges and Miners," and the premise was two miners arguing about which group were more intelligent.

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Whither (whether?) Personal Computing

Over the past 30 years I have observed a slow, inexorable change in the fundamental nature of "personal computing." Back in the day, just starting out in business, I assembled my own computers, and wrote a word processing program (WordStar being, to my mind exorbitantly expensive, and unwieldy).

Over the years users traded the ability to do their own thing for enhanced capabilities. What I have now was unimaginable "back in the day." But the result was a de facto loss of transparency about what was going on inside the box, and an attendant inability to control it. Still, the programs and data remained on the users computer.

With the development of LAN technology, it became practical for organizations to consolidate first data, and subsequently data and applications. However, the industry still supported the large number of individual users using stand alone computers.

For the moment, we still have some residual ability to store and process data locally. The large IT companies are moving to change that. For example, it is so much easier to patch programs than to design them right in the first place. No internet access, no patches.

The evident of goal of Cloud computing is to reduce all personal computing to what I now have on my I-Pad--An interface with some basic functions and a limited amount of local data storage. Users will be forced to rely on "the Cloud" for everything else, including applications programs. Does being done with malice aforethought? I couldn't hazard a guess. In the end it doesn't matter. The damage will be done.

The threat this poses to privacy has been thrashed about at length in the register. That is more than enough reason to pause and think before docilely leaping off this cliff. However, there are also technical issues with respect to reliability of large data centers and bandwidth. The information is on the net, mostly in the scientific and technical journals that are not readily accessible to the average user. (I have the technical background, and most of them leave me scratching my head.).

Technical solutions to these issues exist. But whether they are going to be affordable to the individual who just needs what amounts to a stand-alone capability is very doubtful.

Finally, looking through the glass darkly: In the US at least, those who govern have already taken giant steps toward requiring that individuals be connected to the internet to do business with their government. Technically it is a small step from there to mandating the use of "the Cloud" and putting legal limits on stand alone personal computing capabilities. It is a step that I fear those who govern are all too eager to take.

I know that the House Rules discourage inclusion of personal information. Hopefully the following won't bend that rule to badly. My assessment of the threat is based on half a century working in and around the USG. I rose high enough professionally to sit in the banquet hall with the kings and nobles. I was amongst them, but not one of them. I was the court fool, if you will, able to observe, unobserved except when they demanded entertainment. What I observed is that the kings and nobles are human. They are capable of the best and worst that humanity has to offer.

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Just another extension of the perennial problem with the USA, for some arrogant, patronising reason they think they own the planet. They may well own the 51st State, the UK because all politicians with the exception of Harold Wilson refused to allow the UK to be drawn into the Vietnam war. The UK will just roll over as usual as UK politicians have rubber spines and will crawl on broken glass to do Washingtons bidding. Just another one of the reasons I am leaving this defunct slave of the US and moving to a more civilised Europe, as the stench of hypocracy on anything from foreign policy and bailing out corrupt banks has become unbearable.

I refused to allow my company to be conned into using the cloud, as I could see what was going to happen down the road over 5 years ago. Then along came an honest warrior who blew the lid on the US and UK spying scandal, more power to his elbow, he effectively re-enforced my opinion of how low consecutive US administrations had sunk to and we should all thank him for that.

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