My Head Out Of The Cloud And My Feet Back On The Ground

One of the photos from our studio, from a series that Microsoft will not allow to be privately stored in SkyDrive.

My last posting described how I find it a serious breach of security and privacy that a company like Microsoft (but also Google and Apple) actively scans the contents of your cloud storage even if you have ‘shielded’ this from other viewers. If you did not yet read it yet, I could advice to read my last posting from Friday.

I also mentioned that I did not mind so much the rules based on content which were defined, but that they are simply watching over what you actually store.

But I think I should rephrase it; a company that offers cloud storage should not scan files offered for storage based on content. Period. The local legal law should  apply. So, in other words, if the servers are stored in the US, the US laws targeting content should apply. If the servers are physically located off-shore but run by an US company, both country’s laws targeting content should apply.

I formed my opinion that with online storage, that is offered as such, a company should not have the right to limit the type of content that is allowed if it is allowed by the law to posses that kind of content. Why?

Of course, if cloud-storage providers would allow all the content, their servers would immediately be stuffed to the rim with pornography, music and movies. And they probably would not like it that everyone would use up their maximum amount of storage space; which they soon would if they would allow it.

But, that is the provider’s problem. If they use a 1,000 GB server, and promise everyone 7GB of free space, they SHOULD allow everyone to use up 7 GB. Period. That is the promise they make, that is the promise they should keep.

And they can of course actively fight the storage of illegal content. So, illegally acquired music, photos and movies could be required to take offline. Even by court order – no problem. There has never been a legal issue with that. All the law-suits are oriented on the sharing and uploading of the material, never the storage. Since uploading is covered with a cloud storage (since, getting the material there is uploading too, even if it is not shared with others). So, this would take care of the legality and the storage issue too.

But just like what happened to me and my studio last week; storing our own production photographs, I am the owner and creator, and got all the model-release forms signed and organized, the content is perfectly legal not only in my state of Pennsylvania, but in all of the US and Europe at least, a company like Microsoft could not prohibit me to use the storage for these products.

Why not? And why did I change my opinion since last week?

Simple. It is just like your landlord cannot prohibit you from having a pornography DVD in your home, or hang up a pin-up. Once you rent it, you have the right of privacy over your property.

Can a company like Microsoft then actively prohibit this content for their free services? I actually am inclined to say that even then they should not. The fact that they decide to rent out the space for free, does not make it any less a fact that they do still rent out the space to you.

But my company is not using the free option of SkyDrive. It is using the $50 a year for 125 Gb of storage space. We actively rent out this space. I should have the right of privacy that is part of the law in the whole country. As should have everyone else. The fact that Microsoft doesn’t like this, or doesn’t want this, doesn’t make it less so.

The cloud might be a relatively new digital property; it does not hold the rights to bypass any laws.


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