A shift to control your own data

A shift to control your own data

Control the access to your own data...
Control the access to your own data...

Some incidents that happened lately led us to think quite much about the control of our data:

  • In the past couple of months, Facebook had decided to disable the accounts of a couple of friends of ours.
  • In 1999, some very important files of mine were hosted on a “Free 50MB storage” service. A year later I found out that my files were taken hostage, and in order to bail them out of that company I had to pay $10.
  • Censorship is another concern. I’ve given YouTube and Flickr the liberty to censor my movies and photos. Sometime in the future, they might decide to shutdown their service, clean up their servers, go bankrupt, become a racist totalitarian, or who knows what.
  • Some very important accounts of mine are authenticated against my GMail. If someone somehow breaks into it – I can lose control over some Very important accounts of mine.

These are a couple scenarios that happen when we give the control over our own data, to some 3rd parties who might someday betray our trust.

Very annoying.

Very disturbing, when I came to think of it.

Giving the control over my data to some company, suddenly sounds insane. Why should I trust Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon, Microsoft and Google – with access to my personal data? Why are we forced to trust these companies, when another, very elegant solution is now possible?

Tal Muskal has urged me to think about cloud computing in the past couple of months now. Amazon, Microsoft and Google – all started to offer some cloud storage and computing solutions. These resources are quite cheap, and always available. Together with some open-source development, these solutions can be turned into something very neat.

Imagine that you pay for some storage and CPU time in the cloud. You have full control over the data, and the APIs needed to access this data. All the code is open-source, and the data is encrypted so that you are the only one who controls who gets to see what.

With this scheme, I can control exactly who is permitted to access my pictures. I can allow my Facebook-friends access to my future events, without allowing Facebook-the company access to my list of favorite songs. I can store some audio-clips, and pay $0.17/GB/Month, without the concern that a service will sometime decide to take it down.

This approach is much healthier than the current state we’re in. It removes the need to trust 3rd parties with some very important data. I believe that the ability to have full control over his own data is something that every heavy Internet user should strive for…

6 thoughts on “A shift to control your own data

  1. Nice article…
    Why then you trust Amazon’s S3 more than GMail?
    To access S3 you need secret access keys which you may keep on your computer (unlike your GMail password), and once someone breaks into it you can be similarly damaged?

    Also, to retrieve

  2. I don’t have to trust Amazon’s keys either… I can encrypt the data that I store on their S3/EC2 using my own encryption scheme, unrelated to Amazon’s keys management.
    You’ve got a point regarding the taking-over of my whole account and deleting it comp

  3. Your alternative is not detailed enough.
    Are you talking about an opensource, cloud computing, implemented as a downloadable client, or interfaced with some main API on some company’s server?

    The international banker conspiracy to take over the world

  4. Not detailed enough for what? It’s still just a general idea… I’m sure there are TONS of issues (if and) when I’ll delve into the details…

    The direction I’ve thought about so far (Tal gave me some hints on this 🙂 ), is an open source software runn

  5. Great article (i like the picture)

    Some advantages i see in personal cloud computing:
    1) Data portability, export/import all my data and metadata or share with other services. – if you decide to migrate to a similar service.
    2) Flickr/Lastfm/Upcomin

  6. This worries you?
    “Do no Evil”…today…

    Who guarantees what Google (a commercial body) will elect to do with all the data it has in the future?

    cheers,
    mike

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