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ChromeOS means loss of control of data and privacy, says Richard Stallman

Posted by on 14/12/2010

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Richard Stallman, the found of the GNU OS and Free Software Foundation warns computer owners that Google’s ChromeOS means giving up control over their data. With ChromeOS, the intention is to store as little file information locally, but rather on Google’s own cloud servers.

Google’s cloud computing offers no transparency and very little control over the actual files on their servers. Just like a cloud vs. dedicated hosting, cloud hosts have advantages of quick expansions if necessary, but this also means the owner doesn’t have physical access to their files since they are scattered about a SAN server in various locations.

He mentioned just recently that allowing your data to be stored on a public server severely hampers your right to data privacy.

“In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company’s machines instead of your own. The police need to present you with a search warrant to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company’s server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant.”

ChromeOS was launched last week where journalists and analysts were given special Cr-48 computers loaded up with ChromeOS and relevant software for preview purposes, and they mentioned that it would be publicly available by mid-2011.

Stallman said that the age of ‘careless computing’ is here where users are tricked by the marketing hype of cloud technology, but don’t realize how much is given up in exchange.

“I suppose many people will continue moving towards careless computing, because there’s a sucker born every minute. The US government may try to encourage people to place their data where the US government can seize it without showing them a search warrant, rather than in their own property. However, as long as enough of us continue keeping our data under our own control, we can still do so. And we had better do so, or the option may disappear.”

However, his comments may not sway many users from ditching the new OS. Remember Facebook? Remember all the people crying about privacy? They’re still using it. Society is definitely going in a direction where people are not afraid to give up information, but there is always that initial resistance. Also with cloud computing being hyped as the way to go with hosting and file storage, people fail to see the downsides of it.

So will you go ahead with ChromeOS or stick it safe with a Mac or PC?

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