Steve Wozniak: Cloud Computing Lessen People's Control over Content

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Steve Wozniak, the engineering genius behind Apple's computer, expressed some reservations on the shift from hard drive to cloud computing. To Wozniak, cloud computing less the control of computer users because of "legalistic terms of services".

"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said in a dialogue after the performance of controversial monologue "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" by Mike Daisey in Washington.

"I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."

Wozniak was apprehensive over ownership of data stored in the cloud. He feels that the terms of service lessen the control of users.

"With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away" through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.

Amazon, the leading cloud service provider with a 50 per cent market share, provides in its term of service and conditions that users of Cloud Drive, give them "the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and [user's] files." The terms of service also vest Amazon the power to investigate and determine whether files that user's upload comply with the law or its terms of service.

Apple, from which Wozniak quit in 1987 after 12 years in the company, provides in its terms of service for iCloud that the user agrees that Apple can "access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, disclosure, or preservation is reasonably necessary." In short, upon Apple's discretion, it can do whatever it want, subject to certain restrictions, with the data in user's account with iCloud.

The terms of service or agreement for Google Cloud Storage, which was only launched this year, says it "does not grant either party any rights, implied or otherwise, to the other's content or any of the other's intellectual property" while providing that customers owns "intellectual property rights in customer data." The agreement also says, "Google owns all intellectual property rights in the service." Under its DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) Policy, if Google receives "notice of alleged copyright infringement of content" it "will remove or disable access to that content subject to applicable laws and and make a good faith effort to give notice of the claimed infringement to the account holder." Only a notice of an allegation is needed for the provision to apply.

Wozniak feels that terms of service like these dillute the ownership of cloud users over their files. To him, the more people shift to cloud, the less control people will have over their data.

"I want to feel that I own things," he said.

"A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."

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