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Wednesday, 08 June 2011 16:25

iCloud will cater to iFools


Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has unveiled a new service, iCloud, inviting Mac users to store all their personal data in the cloud.

Judging by the reaction of at least two developers at the announcement - as broadcast by the American Public Broadcasting Service - there are plenty of iFools around who are willing to drink this KoolAid the same way they have swallowed everything else from Apple.

I've lost count of the number of companies which have offered to store for us, free, our own data. And boy, they love to portray it as though they are doing us a service.

Google loves to give us free mail accounts - and conveniently makes no mention of the fact that it remotely reads all that mail and serves up ads that are correlated to the content. Like that? I don't.

But then as Google's Eric Schmidt put it, if you have nothing to hide, why are you averse to having your personal files read by all and sundry? Had someone asked Schmidt if he was willing to sleep with his partner in public, he probably would have backed down - but then the Google faithful only stand in awe when such pronouncements are made. For them, Google can do no wrong.

And the same applies, on a much larger scale, to Apple users. It is something like a cult. No matter what is announced by Cupertino, they lap it up. A little cyanide with your KoolAid, sir? Sure, if Mr Jobs says it will make my computing easier.

The dangers posed by cloud computing have been on plain display for some time. Amazon cut off services to WikiLeaks when its US slavemasters told it to. Was WikiLeaks doing anything wrong? No, not so far as we know. No court has been able to prove that. Trusting Amazon's cloud to carry its services proved to be a dead end.

Twitter recently gave up user data in Britain. Who actually owns that data - the users or Twitter? How much of your personal privacy is important when a state - and remember no government is going to do anything that is not in its self-interest - is involved?



But back to Apple. Would any company do something free without a hidden way of making profit? If you believe that Apple is some warm. cuddly teddy bear, trying its level best to give you stuff free, then stop reading right here.

Still with me? Remember the concept of the network computer, advanced by Oracle's Larry Ellison a long time ago? The idea was that you would have a dumb device on your desk which drew all its computing power from a server elsewhere. His idea was to get rid of computing on the desktop so that Windows would sink - and with it, Bill Gates, his hated rival. The concept bombed. Today we still have on our desktops, either in PC or laptop form, enough computing power to drive a server.

The cloud is a reworking of that idea - with a fancy name to boot. There is enough of a bubble around technology once again to make these fancy names fly.

Amazon isn't the only company that has reminded us of the foolishness of depending on the cloud. Sony's servers were cracked recently and millions of passwords and credit card numbers were put at risk.

In 2009, it was disclosed that Heartland, a payment processor, had been the victim of a hack that resulted in the loss of an unknown number of credit card numbers. And I could go on and on...

There is a simple principle here: trusting a corporate to look after your personal data for the sake of a little convenience is something that only a fool would do.

But, the Apple faithful would whine, this is Apple, the company that is different. The whole point of taking over the storage of your data is to benefit by doing so - scanning files to determine the best products to be pitched to you, whether you have data that violates others IP, whether you have files that are, in the eyes of the big brother at Apple, "unsuitable." Remember how certain applications were banned from the AppStore - apps that Jobs found "unsuitable"?

Of course, for the iFools, it is all for their own good. At least so they believe. If they are willing to take up this service in order to avoid a little inconvenience, they might as well do a striptease in public every day. Letting any company control one's life is an act of incredible stupidity. But then, remember, I used the word iFool right at the start.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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