Let’s talk for a minute about privacy and online storage.
While America may be one of the centers of the Internet universe, it is hardly the optimal place for online storage, due to the aggressive erosion of personal liberties and privacy.
If you’re in the pro-Gonzales camp, you may want to stop reading now; you’re not going to be happy with what I have to say.
If you care about your privacy and freedoms and how they relate to the Zonbu, then read on…
The erosion of privacy...
Privacy in America is not what it once was. Some would even question why we’re “fighting over there” to bring democracy to a new land while we’re rapidly destroying some of the central tenets of it “over here”.
As the general public, we don’t even know what we don’t know about the snooping and eavesdropping that has been engaged in since 9/11. Any dscussion on the topic is immediately muzzled.
What we do know is that extensive, and potentially illegal, if not unethical, eavesdropping on average citizens, both domestically and internationally, has become commonplace.
We also know the government is engaged in a number of projects to compile massive databases on the calling, Internet use and credit habits of virtually all citizens and others residing in or passing through America.
Is this climate right for online data storage?
Given this invasive climate, is the S3 storage service the best option for the Zonbu? Probably not.
Storing your data in a country that has stronger protections for personal privacy is probably a better option. Although, as always, the fears of these options harbouring illegal material is valid and needs to be weighed against personal freedoms.
At the very least, I think Zonbu should offer alternate solutions, ideally creating an abstraction layer between the Zonbu OS and the on-line storage provider so that interfaces in to various platforms can be written without changing the user experience.
Two immediate options come to mind, Switzerland and Sweden. Both because of privacy laws and also because of network connectivity. Additional locations in the Caribbean or other locales may have benefits that could be explored.
In addition to offering alternate locations to the US based S3 servers, it would be nice if the Zonbu offered the ability to encrypt individual folders within the operating system and storage infrastructure.
Depending on the location and use of the PC, it may be necessary to keep documents and records separate from different end users or prying eyes.
As someone who had a fairly senior non-management employee uncover and distribute payroll tables around the company, I can tell you this can be a real issue.
A Global Conscience
In closing, I want to say that when it comes to not only privacy but also environmentalism and general community engagement, a global approach will serve the Zonbu better than an American centric approach.
Arguably, many of the selling features of the device/service play even better in countries other than America.
These challenges and opportunities should not be overlooked.
I’m from Sweden and sadly I have to say that we may not be the best choice even if we may be better than the US. Our government is just a bit slow to catch up with the american ideas…
For example – the government here are trying to make a law which enables our military to track all internetdata going across our national borders. If a swede in the future uses Zonbu then our government will practically have the rights to go through all of documents etc that the user is saving on the S3 storage and all Zonbus storage would be put in Sweden then all would be tracked by the government except for the one made by us swedes. I think it’s something like that – haven’t bothered to catch up on all aspects of it…
Google have however said that if that law is made then they will never ever put a server in Sweden.
So sadly – your not alone with stupid post-9/11-laws 😦
Thank you for the update.
It is a concering thing that civil liberties the world over are being trampled so casually, when it took hundreds of years for them to be established with the fall of the feudal system and the emergence of the middle class after the industrial revolution.
Perhaps Switzerland is, in fact, a more viable option?
Does anyone else have a market they can recommend where the courts have not yet demonstrated a strong inclination to accept Government demands that violate iprivacy without adequately weighing the rights of the individual?
I have long been concerned that virtually anything seems to be considered acceptable as long as the ghost of 9/11 is raised.
Alain – Where are the French on these issues?
I can’t say much about Switzerland. I’m a German, and here it’s not any better, sadly.
will tell you more about the topic. That guy even wants to have suspects shot, not only proven and condemned criminals, and that in a country which doesn’t have the death penalty.
In that respect, Germany is falling back to the middle age rather fast. Our politicians try to protect democracy with destroying it themselves.
We do use 128bit RC4 encryption to store all data on the S3 server. We plan to upgrade to a more powerful cypher in the future (recommendations? need it to be real time on our processor, small footprint, very stable libraries, as it is in the direct flow of all data).
Any user can contact us and ask us NOT to store his/her encrypted key (encrypted with the user’s password) on our servers.
Requesting this has pluses and minuses, on the plus side nobody, government or otherwise can compel us to produce the key… we do not have it! On the minus side if the key is lost, we cannot help him/her and the files cannot be retrieved.
Thank you for the additional info.
I do want to say though, that if you live in a country outside the USA, encyption or no, there is a real appeal in not storing all your personal data in the USA, which has developed quite a reputation for trampling privacy rights – especially of non-nationals.
Aside from that, abstracting the cachefs interface to allow for other services just seems like a good idea from a flexibility point of view, no?
[…] wasn’t mind-reading the other day when I wrote my post about Zonbu needing to consider storage options outside of America, although it was definitely […]