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FTC reminds us that storing data in the cloud has drawbacks

Jan 07, 2010, 16:33 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nate Anderson)

"Take Google's new Nexus One phone as a case study of the pros and cons of storing life details on remote servers. Nexus One phones can back up their complete settings to Google's servers, including data such as "Wi-Fi passwords, bookmarks, a list of the applications you've installed, the words you've added to the dictionary used by the onscreen keyboard, and most of the settings that you configure with the Settings application." Get a new phone and the data transfers easily.

"But that data is now sitting on servers outside of your control, where it can be accessed far more easily by Google itself, hackers, and law enforcement than it ever could if kept within the device. Once data passes over the network, it gets much easier to access in realtime; once it is stored on a remote server, it gets much easier to access at any time.

"And those are just the phone settings. Google also has access to search history data, anything stored in Google Docs or Spreadsheets, complete schedules stored in Google Calendar, and recent Maps searches. Combine them all, and companies like Google become one-stop shops for authorities looking for personal information."

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