No Walls: Thinking About Privacy in the Cloud

Feb 23, 2014 | Cloud Computing

Below is a link to Dropbox’s principles on how it will treat governments’ requests for information.

https://www.dropbox.com/transparency/principles

In my opinion, what Dropbox is attempting to accomplish is a necessary next step.  Think of your Dropbox account as your home closet.  Your closet is full or private objects and information and a government would need a warrant to search it.  The government could not simply cut a hole in the wall and enter your closet from the outside, so why should the government be able to access your information in Dropbox from another path?

This should seem logical.  However, the cloud and technology need their own set of rules and conceptualizations.  Because we are comfortable and familiar with the idea of tangible property inside a closet, it seems second nature to analogize the closet to the cloud.  It seems like an obvious connection, but is it correct?  Is the cloud like your closet or is it time to accept that intangible information or data needs its own set of novel guidelines?  After all, although you may own the walls surrounding your closet, you are unlikely to own the digital walls surrounding your information.  A government would need tools to destroy a structure and cut through walls to gain access to your closet.  No tools or destruction are necessary to access your data.  In the cloud, access is as simple as drawing a door. There are “doors” that you didn’t know existed.

The analogy almost works except that in the cloud, there are no walls.  How do you find privacy in a plane/universe where information is floating around?  If we want walls, we need to build them.  The walls must be defined, universally recognized, and enforceable.

There are no boundaries to what technology can accomplish.  It’s time we start thinking without boundaries.

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Lisa M. Angelo

I’m an attorney passionate about helping businesses use technology responsibly. For many years I listened to people describe a disconnect between lawyers and technology. My goal has been to bridge the gap. Please enjoy this blog about cyber law; where technology and the law intersect.