Welcome to the Cloud. Cloud Storage. Cloud Computing. These are the buzz words for today’s new technology. Every day more organizations are deciding to switch to the cloud. We regularly interact with the cloud in different ways, but many of us don’t really know what the cloud is. In the simplest sense cloud computing refers to storing data or information on a virtual server over the internet.
Many organizations are moving towards cloud computing for their own storage and eliminating the traditional on site servers. There are many things that need to be considered when looking into this change. In Alaska, especially remote areas, internet connectivity may be a big concern. It would not be effective to use cloud computing without a stable, reliable internet connection.
Another large concern with cloud computing centers around the ownership of the data stored in the cloud. We are faced with multitudes of legal fine print when using computers. The standard is to scroll down and click ok or agree without reading. When looking into cloud computing it is very important to read the terms of services (ToS) and read them completely.
Google uses a single ToS to cover most of its products. The ToS clearly state “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.” That sounds good. If your organization is going to switch to cloud computing, the information needs to continue to be the property of the organization.
However, upon further reading of the ToS you will find the following: “When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
Woah! So the information stays the property of the organization, but the information can be used by Google for just about any purpose they choose. While it is unlikely that Google would actually do anything with your data, this is a risk you may not be willing or able to take.
An example of more ideal language is found in the DropBox ToS. “You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services.”
There are other considerations to be made, but make sure you read the ToS completely. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you don’t have the privacy you were expecting.