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Friday, August 22, 2008

What User Agreement?

I just heard a very interesting story on NPR. No, I don't listen to it on a regular basis or anything like that. I use it for my job. They were discussing how storing our information, pictures, emails, vital documents, etc. in the "cloud", the term to describe storage in cyber space, is more and more becoming the norm and will be the common wave of the future. However, as this is happening, the majority of us out their using these online services really don't know what we've signed up, what our rights are, etc. b/c none of us have really read the user agreements that we agree in order to become members.

Take email, for example. If someone out there is a vindictive prick who's out to wreak petty yet powerful vengeance on you, they can write to your email provider and claim, without any proof necessary, that you have illegal content in your email box, or that you're using your email account for illegal practices. Again, no proof is required to verify this accusation. Unless you're some hot shot client, it takes more time, money, and resources than is worth it in order to investigate the charges. Instead, the email provider will more than likely just shut down your email account without warning. Yes, they can do that. Goodbye to all your emails. Adios to all your information you've been saving. Shalom and L'hitraot to all those important documents. What? You didn't know they can do that? But, it says so right there in the User Agreement.

An example of this happened to me last year. As most of my readers will know, during the war in 2006, I produced a number of short picture films set to music. I posted them on YouTube and then embedded them here. About a year or so after I posted them, I was emailed by some readers that the videos were no longer working. I went into YouTube to get into my account, but my password didn't work. I wrote to YouTube to find out what was going on. They wrote back to me saying that my account had been terminated due to violations of the terms of service. They didn't give any further explanation as to what violations I had supposedly violated. What I suspect happened was that some pro-Palestinian or pro-Hezbollah jerks complained about the content of my videos. So, without warning or explanation, my account was simply terminated without my knowledge.

As I'm even sitting here writing this, I'm completely aware that one day, some same Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, liberal jerk off can come to this site, not like what I'm writing, declare that free speech is only for those that agree with his opinion, write to Google, complain about me, and my blog could be gone. No explanation needed. All that stuff I wrote vanished. And Google could do it too. It's in that User Agreement I clicked the "I Agree" box for.

But, will I back all my writings up? Eh, probably not. It's human nature. That's why we're using the cloud more and more to store our information. It's easier. It's quicker, and it's always there when we need it. Of course, until it not...

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23 Comments:

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