March 08, 2006

Give Up All My Data?

In a recent post Richard MacManus commented upon Google's desire to store 100% of our (its users') data.

"With infinite storage, we [Google] can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc). ...As we move toward the "Store 100%" reality, the online copy of your data will become your Golden Copy and your local-machine copy serves more like a cache. An important implication of this theme is that we can make your online copy more secure than it would be on your own machine. Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user's data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications."

Richard says that "This all revives my faith in Google". It rather worries me.

Not because it's Google who are trying to acquire all my data, but because I don't think we should surrender control over our data lightly. To anybody.

Being able to access all of my data, from one app to another will make it more valuable, but it doesn't automatically follow that it all has to be under the control of a single entity or be stored in one place. It just makes it a bit harder to implement, but that's because it brings the real problems to the surface: who should be allowed access to my data? How much of my data should they be able to access?

There are some compelling reasons for storing all of my data online, but only if I retain full control over it.

If it's on the Internet, can I access my data from any device, anywhere in the world, or just from those devices supported by Google?

Can I access all of my data? Jon Udell has already reported on The security of our data is another compelling reason to let somebody else take care of it
problems he's had in accessing all of his email held in GMail.

What happens if Google goes bankrupt?

What happens if Google decide to upgrade their applications, and my computer isn't powerful enough to run the new version? How do I get my data out of their silos to use in a different app?

What happens if the US government decides to cut-off access to Google's apps from my country because it's a terrorism threat? Or forces Google to hand over all of my data?

I don't think that we shouldn't be using the Internet to allow us better, more flexible access to our data; in fact I've been making more and more of my own data accessible on the 'net for years. I just think we should be careful about how we go about it.

Posted by Adrian at March 8, 2006 09:24 AM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

You can receive updates whenever a new post is written by subscribing to the recent posts RSS feed or

Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Note: I'm running the MT-Keystrokes plugin to filter out spam comments, which unfortunately means you have to have Javascript turned on to be able to comment.