Thinking About The Problem In The Cloud ?

Problem-In-Cloud-hostingThe term “cloud” can be a bit vague, but the central idea of a person having access to your files and applications anywhere they are, and in all kinds of devices, is clearly attractive. Only, by the way it has been implemented so far, cloud computing cause concern to advocates of free software and anyone slightly concerned about your privacy. Of course there are various free software projects that offer alternatives to some of the most popular cloud services, but these projects are still in its infancy, and hardly anyone joined. The beginning of a new month is a good time to think about how cloud services will be if – or rather when – the freedom and privacy to pass important points.

What kinds of services are we talking about here?

The most obvious candidates are the social networks and email – areas where there is a broad field of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and the like – but there are also other possibilities. The data storage with easy access and affordable cloud would allow users to access documents, music, ebooks, movies, photos and other things from any device connected to the internet. Sharing this information and opportunities for collaboration with friends, relatives and co-workers should also end up being something very simple.

Most of this infrastructure already exists in various “walled gardens” that try chaining users to their services, excluding competitors. It is not easy to free the user data from the clutches of Facebook (it is even impossible in some cases), and the service also does not facilitate things if you want to collect information about people in “their” social network. This has a good side and a bad side, of course, since most people do not want to have their email address to be collected by a spammer who is impersonating a friend. Google (especially the staff Data Liberation Front ) has been working to enable the user to easily remove data services company, but most providers of cloud applications does its best to keep users locked into them.

The only safe way to maintain control over data is not storing personal data unencrypted on the servers of providers of cloud applications. The model envisioned by Project is interesting because the data remains on the Dedicated Server user (or on a server that you control). The application makes sharing these data with various subsets of “friends” of the user. If your grandfather post a link to pictures stored on another social network, the user can easily remove access, because these data are under your control. Of course, nothing prevents your grandfather posting “same” photos somewhere else instead of just linking, but it is assumed that the user knows who should have access to the information.

It goes beyond photos and status updates that are annoying. Email is another obvious candidate for cloud storage. Many people use Gmail or other services, but there are privacy issues involved, despite Google making it relatively delete email from your system. It seems that the government can easily access the information in email accounts, sometimes even without the backing of some legal document. The employees of these services probably also can access the messages stored in email accounts.

Not to mention in text documents, spreadsheets, desktop settings, most frequently used applications, browser bookmarks, data files and etc … In most cases, that information reside in folders of users computers, with versions in laptop, Google Docs and the smartphone. Firefox and other browsers can synchronize browser data (bookmarks and settings) between multiple instances, but these settings should be treated differently from Thunderbird’s preferences, or settings of GNOME or KDE? Will we need a separate mechanism to synchronize the information for each application?

Although relatively simple change in free software applications to support some kind of new protocol for retrieving and updating settings and the like, may be easier to avoid having to do this with applications that already exist. Instead, some form of wizard can be created. It would understand the local storage used by multiple applications (free and proprietary) and could manage the transfer and synchronization as needed. Newer applications, or major upgrades to existing programs, obviously this mechanism could lead to cloud hosting storage account.

Another obstacle is that servers connected to the internet cost money. Most users, especially those who are not accustomed to very technical things, will not want to run their own server. One solution would be the creation of services that are easy to use and at low cost that offer these users a place to host encrypted data. With the numerous and popular free web services, I think it will be very difficult (perhaps impossible) to make the general public pay for this type of service. And who will lose out are the same people, since the current situation turns users into products to be sold to advertisers and others.

Maybe this whole story is too ambitious, and I am dreaming too high. Today people do not care much for privacy, so in the end everyone can end storing data in the cloud with Google, Facebook, Apple, eNlight Cloud and other companies. Despite the fact that it will give a lot of work, there are many technical hurdles to overcome. Some kind of protocol will have to be established or adopted, some issues concerning the management of encryption keys have to be addressed, but nothing terribly difficult. The real barriers are social and political.



1 Response

  1. fieldomobify

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