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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Cloud computing and its consequences

"Cloud computing," is just a buzz phrase for remote storage.
Instead of having a local hard drive, a provider like Google or Amazon makes their space available to you.
All your files are on their servers; as long as your mobile device has an app for it, you can get to them. Tablet, netbook, cell phones - multiple devices all able to see the same stuff.
Sounds much more convenient than having it all on a PC and copying it everywhere right? And they'll take care of the backups, upgrades and other administrative chores too. What could be simpler?
Now let's say all your data is on the cloud.
It is very versatile and convenient, provided you remain on good terms with your provider.
You can walk away from a service that has only a handful of files hosted. What if you put all of your data there? All your photos, music and so on? How long would it take to download all that if you had to without much warning? Would doing so bust your usage cap?
Imagine another possible scenario:
Government goes to the companies (and you better fucking play ball, mister) and says it wants absolutely everything, no warrants required.
The companies hand it over.
That is what is beginning now. Companies are offering an attractive, convenient and high speed (albeit capped and throttled) experience.
Government sets rules privileging the handful of big providers, and an increasingly docile user base slowly funnels into one of those silos. Federal officials can then, if need be, work with these partners (Orwellian language intended) to get whatever it thinks it has to have - no legal hassles required. It is a very efficient way to manage an otherwise unwieldy population.
We are seeing the development of an increasingly bright line in how users access the Internet.
For most people, who don't know or can't be bothered, there will be an array of relatively cheap and fast wireless options that will allow them to stream media, store favorite music or picture files on remote drives, and generally live their digital lives happily in a gilded cage. (This all assumes no one takes an interest in the DRM status of their MP3 files or becomes concerned that their pictures might show things that touch on national security.)
For those who do not want to live there - permanently, anyway - there will be another one: Wired, slower, locally stored and self-administered - that will provide access to that portion of the network that has not yet been smothered out of existence.

Liberally taken from Building the shadow Internet.
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