Megaupload's cloud implications

The closure of Megaupload isn’t just about control of content on the net but also raises questions about privacy and how we use cloud services.

The closure of file sharing site Megaupload has raised the question of trust in the cloud, as one daily paper pointed out, quoting futurist Mark Pesce, “it has made cloud services look that much less legitimate.”

Now for those of us advocating cloud services and advising businesses on using them, this issue of trust isn’t exactly new. All of us have to be careful about who we trust with our data and Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload, doesn’t come to mind as someone who would stand a great deal of due diligence.

Like investments – another area where trust is essential – we have to spread our risk around. Saving copies of data to your own computer and making sure the information you save on the cloud is in a form easily read by different systems is important, as is not trusting any one service for critical services.

Privacy concerns

The taking down of Megaupload also raises other questions – as privacy advocate Lauren Weinstein points out;

“But the Megaupload case is more akin to the government seizing every safe deposit box in a bank because the bank owners (and possibly some percentage of the safe deposit box users) were simply accused — not yet convicted — of engaging in a crime.

What of the little old lady with her life savings in her box, or the person who needs to access important documents, all legitimate, all honest, no crimes of any sort involved.

They are — to use the vernacular — screwed.”

It’s this over-reaction by government agencies which is the real concern and the co-operation of large corporations in shutting down services – as we saw with the shutting down of Wikileaks – probably does more to damage trust in all online services, not just cloud computing.

Cloud services are no less trustworthy than our computer system, that can breakdown, catch viruses or be compromised by staff making mistakes. We have to understand that all technologies carry some degree of risk.

For businesses and home users, we need to spread the risks around – don’t just trust one service or technology to deliver your products or services and have a fall back plan if things go wrong.

Paul Wallbank is a business technology writer, broadcaster and blogger and author of eBusiness: Seven Steps to Online Success.

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