The cloud is a lie

I’m not afraid to say it, mostly because I know I’m not alone in the matter. It may be appealing to some people to think they can store or access or perhaps even “process” with the Internet as the host, but it’s nothing I’ll ever rely on.

Privacy is my main concern. I know for a fact, from firsthand experience, that most of the “hosting services” — especially GMail, to pick on that example — regularly screen and/or access the information, and use it for their own purposes. That alone is enough to dispel any illusion I may have, personally, about privacy or respect for information. I acknowledged that in the terms of service when I opened the account though, so I don’t complain. I am just aware of the fact, and work around it when necessary.

But of equal concern to me is the idea that there is a longer string of hardware requirements for using “the cloud,” when compared to keeping my software and data locally. One hiccup in the chain between my computer and the Internet host, and the entire idea falls flat. I lived through the era of dumb terminals and trust me, nobody really liked it. I shudder at the idea of going back.

I suppose, as a Linux advocate, I should acknowledge the obvious fact that the gooey love-fest over cloud computing is really just an overture toward putting corporations in a better position to manhandle licensing and usage restrictions. It’s much easier, for example, for Microsoft to control who uses their software, if it’s not being managed at the individual level. But the point is tertiary at best for me, so I worry very little about that fact.

The sad truth is that the Internet loves its glossy, shiny new ideas, and the more hype I hear and see about any particular catchphrase, then less likely I am to embrace it. The push toward the cloud is just the latest in a long list of things I will probably avoid, until my personal concerns are met.


17 thoughts on “The cloud is a lie

  1. CorkyAgain

    I’m with you on this one.

    I suppose it’s not surprising that people who are still using text-mode apps are skeptical of the latest shiny things.

    But I began my computing career back in the eighties, when personal computing was all about wresting control away from the IT department, big corporations, and other central bureaucracies. Since then, I’ve watched the would-be controllers try various ploys to undo the PC revolution. The client-server, dumb terminal model has always been their schtick. I didn’t buy it then and I won’t buy it now that it’s been rebranded as the “cloud”.

  2. Mike

    I’ve gotta say, I also get a bit paranoid about the fact that Google could, at a whim, peek through all my emails and search history. Plus, ever since the Facebook TOS controversy, I can’t be sure whether that email is REALLY deleted. Google’s hard drive space is essentially infinite, so how can I be sure it hasn’t been archiving all my correspondence?

    Tinfoil hat time!

  3. morgan

    I am against the ‘cloud ‘ idea due to loss of privacy and control.

    Basically the cloud is only going to be good for the providers, the users will loss out / be ripped off.

    I for one intend to run Linux on my local machines not on someone elses server…

    Here is my solution

    (they have removed networking – thats how they get to you man!)

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  5. Venkatesh

    what separates the corporations is the wealth of their hardware to host the clouds. if something similar to the torrent network comes up to host a cloud, it will be interesting to observe the playground, how the corporations react to it and all that.

  6. Duncan Snowden

    I totally agree. We’ve spent the last 20-odd years trying to get away from vendor lock in, and now that many of us have achieved it we’re supposed to meekly hand all our data over to somebody’s server somewhere. No thanks. I’d rather have mine right here, where if I lose it it’s my fault.

    The cloud isn’t an opportunity for FOSS, it’s its very antithesis. (Unless, as Venkatesh says, somebody comes up with a distributed, torrent-like, version. And even then, I’m not sure I’d trust it.)

  7. Bryan

    My main issue with the whole spiel isn’t related to the security of my data, but rather my access to it and control over where it is. I’m very much the type of person that enjoys control over my things (part of the reason I’m a FOSSaholic) and I refuse to allow google to handle my data. I download all of my email and back it up and I keep any documents for a period on my own external hdd. It’s not that I don’t trust them to handle it properly, but rather that I simply feel that I can be trusted to do so with more care and scrutiny.

    That being said – the move toward cloud enabled devices, such as netbooks, isn’t necessarily a bad idea provided that the user understands what’s occuring (which rarely happens).

    Then again, I’m too young to remember dumb terminals and strict server / terminal relationships, so I may very well be WAY off base 😀

  8. Ron

    Im glad im not the only person feeling this way. I thought maybe I was just being paranoid. I also agree with Brian about the main issue for me being access and control. I currently have a local copy of my gmail account, which everyone seems to think is nuts.

  9. mulenmar

    I’ve been thinking the EXACT same thing for a while now. My G-rated response to the cloud?

    “Oh yeah, sure. Would you like some pie with that sky?”

    I **might** trust Dropbox, but no way will I trust cloud computing. Ever.

    I suspect hard drive companies don’t like the concept either, as it would require massive redistribution of their marketing plans.

    I’ll stick with “Deli” the Latitude C600, some DVD-Rs, and w3m-img, thank you very much.

    1. mulenmar

      Sorry to double post, but I almost forgot to ask: does anyone know of a email service that is trustworthy? As in being secure AND privacy-oriented?

  10. devnet

    Spideroak maintains their own cloud for your storage and they encrypt it….so that even THEY can’t decrypt it.

    That’s pretty awesome if you ask me. That’s why I use them. Even if they wanted to know what I was storing up their on their cloud, they wouldn’t be able to find out.

  11. dragonbite

    The cloud as Google has it is one thing, but where the cloud is going to increase is in corporate private clouds.

    This way a corporation can maintain control of their data as well as make any/all apps available to all of their users complete with custom tweaks and possibly even allow remote users to log in (VPN?) and have the full benefit without anything moving onto the users computer (and thus potentially be lost/stolen).

    Think Exchange and its web interface and extrapolate it over all of the applications on your work computer.

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