TED Conversations

Amir Azizi Sarajy

Film maker, Timescratch

This conversation is closed.

iCloud and Cloud disks, our personal data on the web, benefits and consequences ?

In Feb 2009 Tim Burners Lee talked about sharing our documents over the web, and he was referring to Hans Rosling's talk about the need for our raw data on the web for research and a better world.

Amazon started Cloud Disk, Apple started iCloud, while Drop Box and Google Docs were already available .

What do you think about putting your personal data on the web? What are the consequences? Will it be used just for research? or will 1984's Big Brother be looking at us?

How much do you trust it? What are your concerns? What are the best benefits and worst consequences of it?

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    Oct 16 2011: It is like anything else in the modern world: outsourcing - delegating responsibility for convenience.

    Just like we hire a plumber, who has to invade our privacy to fix a broken water pipe.
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      Oct 16 2011: exactly, in the BBC documentary Virtual Revolution that I talked about earlier , this is been talked about in detail that we use a free service but pay it but offering our very own personal information, FIX my pipe for free but you can look around my house and see how do you like it.
  • Nov 9 2011: I'm compelled to lol at this post... but I'll bite.

    With the likes of China and Russia hacking government computers on an HOURLY basis, to think ANY data that's accessible by the Internet is safe is naivety incarnate.

    Lockheed-Martin's Joint Strike Fighter program was hacked (by "some large Asian country" -- guess who! -_-) in May with an estimated $10billion and two decades of technological know-how relinquished. If the most costly military program in US history ($300bil worth) is seemingly so easily molested, what chance does the average hoi polloi uploader stand of not having his / her personals spilled all over the cyber world?

    The fact of the matter is, those we've come to trust - government institutions, professional corporations et al - are a mile behind the 8-ball when it comes to online security. There is a massive power shift under way in the world where those who have the biggest guns and most money are necessarily as 'safe' as they thought they once were.

    Me: I wouldn't store my dick pics online let alone my tax file number! >_>
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      Nov 9 2011: You know Sablcious if that Asian country has even the blueprints of the Fighter they won't be able to do anything, they might make a monkey model, as they do now , they only gonna make a chimp model then.

      To do something great you have to have Great people, not great assets and great papers, This is something that Americans and West European countries know , but Since Russia and China don't understand , they try to steal it rather than make it, But it won't go anywhere.

      I don't know if this makes sense but, I am a film maker and now everything you need to make a great movie is available to you . From Cameras that are great but not costly to Softwares to do visual effects and editing .

      But Still Russia and China can't do something that hollywood does, why ? It is Spielberg who makes a Great movie not an iMac running Final Cut Studio . 3D software are available to everyone but only Pixar and Dream works can make great Animations.

      To Do what Lockheed does , they have to steal entire Lockheed martin with all of its wonderful Scientists.

      But if they can steal something will they use it ? for sure they will , So I think I am concerned about that as much as you are.

      By the way great point thanks for bringing it up
      • Nov 9 2011: Yes--China like to copy others and make poor facsimiles of what they do. This is common knowledge.

        But my comment more concerned Internet security / safety; I thought it very salient that if something as tightly-guarded as the JSF program could be hacked, what level of 'security' could you really expect from an online database of all our credentials? I'd wager even Anonymous would hack it before any more 'nefarious' group would even bother!

        Sidebar:
        I saw a news report on the example I cited not 24 hours ago and analysts too concede that it's not like China will have such working technology before the West just because they pilfered a few intermediate level files--the project has some 7.5 million lines of programming code and the most sensitive stuff isn't Internet accessible. But they did they make note of the fact that years of technological research, and money, was lost in this particular breach.
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          Nov 10 2011: this kinda things raise the hair on back on my neck ....

          if these people only knew that by stealing something you don't own it , you have just stolen it ....
      • Nov 12 2011: Welcome to the new 'Cold War'. ^_-
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    Oct 19 2011: Personally I find these services very convenient. I do appreciate the privacy concerns and as such have a healthy cynicism about their security / privacy. Dropbox for example had an incident a couple of months ago where they had a complete security lapse for a few hours.

    Having said all that, I do think we live in a much more open and transparent world now and I dont feel that any information I store on any device is that sensitive that it would significantly embarrass me if it inadvertently leaked into the public domain. Obviously this isn't to say that I would prefer to keep my data as private and secure as possible.
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    Oct 16 2011: I do think data mining is kind of cool, even if it isn't anonymous. At least from a historical perspective... I see that humanity's collective consciousness is starting to have a memory. Even the mass volume of information is a non-issue when it can all be indexed and searched. Imagine having every one of your ancestors' posts and profiles, going back centuries. Also imagine a world where privacy is no longer an issue. You'll be long gone, but your emails won't.

    So be civil if that's how you want to be remembered!

    Of course though it's not all marvelous. For one I don't like search results being tailored to my likes and interests, nor do I like facebook determining which friends I communicate with the most and only sharing that information. But these have been well voiced concerns and many services offer a way to disable learning algorithms. As for the government, I really don't care if they store all of our tweets in the Library of Congress, look at my beautiful face through my webcam or spy on the contents of my computer through a mysterious protocol on port 82. But I really don't like the idea of using a person's opinions, activities or interests to deem them an ideological threat and put them on some kind of terrorist watch list. Let's imagine that someone was opposed to the ideology behind intellectual property laws and copyright protection. Let's imagine that a corporate government would rather not have them around.

    I do believe many of the greatest human rights violations are yet to come, but so are the greatest journeys, discoveries and innovations. For the first time in history, we really are all in this together.
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      Oct 16 2011: no doubt that this is a double edged sword and It could have a lot of benefits and a lot of unknown issues as well, the unintended consequences are yet to reveal

      The only thing that I am so surprised about is the SPEED, I mean we are going toward the future with an incredible speed and really not having being cautious at all, With this kinda speed the impact if there is any, is gonna be devastating.
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        Oct 16 2011: Well the whole playing field has changed almost completely. What if every person on the planet had instant, recordable communication and contact with every other person? Suddenly we're living that what-if. Suddenly every relatively isolated, slow-changing culture has merged with every other in a hive mind with 6 billion ^ 6 billion new synapses. Everyone has a voice, and thoughts carry much more power, as they have the ability to move the minds of practically everyone overnight. It's like we're waking up as a species, and in some ways it might be like a bad acid trip. The problems of the world are becoming painstakingly clear.
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          Oct 16 2011: the 20th century was the domination of Broadcast and 21st is the domination of connectivity , so if broadcast was in control of few now it is in hands of everyone and as you said a personal video will be seen over a night by millions of people .

          this is a new democracy but history has shown if anything is free, freedom is not :(

          Now that everyone has it no one is listening unless you scream and shout, and again the Broadcast is the only source for valid info and is trusted .
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          Oct 16 2011: I love and embraced the technology and I am almost always there before anyone else, 5 year ago I recorded a training series for Digital Film making that became the best seller and I said look we will be there sooner or later so better to do it now than later.

          But again the speed is so much that even I as someone who is front runner sometimes get surprised.

          I hope in the future we still would be able to stop and smell the roses
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    Oct 15 2011: I think we should be precise with our terminology when discussing this so we don't get bent out of shape for no reason.

    When you put up a web page or a blog, you are putting data "on the web." This is a much different thing than using a third party, off-site storage solution like iCloud or Amazon's services where access should be limited. Once you call this what it is, you realize it's not that much different from what you are already doing:

    My library book records? They're on the library's computer accessible via network. My bank records? On a third-party system accessible via network? Tax records, credit card records, driving records, email—they're all out there on other people's systems. So I have a few word docs and some music on Apple's server farm; not such a big deal in the scheme of things.

    I think we DO need to be cautious placing a lot of information and trust with one company because a single lapse in security or judgement can result in a large problem.
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      Oct 15 2011: Mark I agree , We should be cautious but we do share our digital lives already, I mean as you said some word docs and music, that is not such a big deal.

      One bright side is this can help behavioral science a lot , and I believe that is necessary for future , they worked out our behaviors based on a very long research, now i think it should be done in the digital world as well.
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    Nov 9 2011: Encrypt your files and folders with a key for your device/user. Place in commodity cloud storage. Kind of like putting a letter in a safe and handing it to a van driver. If the van driver loses the safe the data is not accessible. This doesn't work for more complex structured data scenarios, but for your cloud storage examples it provides security. Just make sure you also consider resilience and your ability to get your data back if it is a single point of failure...
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      Nov 9 2011: Good idea, I mean if someone hacks into my personal account I think Probably they would be able to break the password as well but a very good idea indeed , cause they won't be able to do it easily and quickly.
  • Oct 16 2011: My opinion on this is we have been giving up our privacy for years. "A" company has been selling you name and address for decades and is now rarely thought of as intrusive. You give your personal information out to register for web sites. Social Media is a large source of personal information. I say all this because your rights as an American are vanishing, gradually at first then before you realize it you suddenly have no right to privacy at all.
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      Oct 16 2011: Agree with you mate, I was about to write the same thing. I mean companies already know a lot about their users. They know the way we think, what we search on Internet etc etc. Basically that's how ads are shown on websites.

      I personally, don't trust these cops. Although I've some of my family photos saved on Dropbox, I trust my personal stuff is safe here and no one has access to it.

      It's beneficial because it's easy to save them, and you don't need an additional/physical drive to save them.
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    Nov 9 2011: The issue of the cloud (the marketing term that encompasses a mass of different technical and commercial models) to large degree simply draws attention to an issue that already existed. As consumers we've all been using the internet and sharing data for a good long while. Enterprises have been degrading their perimeters and sharing information, or using 3rd parties for a long time but the issue has not been as explicitly recognised as it is now. Broadly, data being more accessible helps to create greater value through it's application or adaption but this is in direct conflict with the privacy and security issues of greater openness. There are a myriad of different use cases in here ranging from the movement of private data to storage providers to complex mashups of multiple third parties accessing and transforming your data - in this model even identifying whom is responsible for your data and it's security becomes immensely challenging. This dynamism of data movement is also directly in conflict with many of the preconceptions of and existing legal frameworks to protect consumers.

    The key point is that the cloud is a question of if, not a question of when. Different use cases will migrate and evolve at different times - some already have and moved a long time ago, others will take time to mature or require more ubiquitous connectivity. We have to shift our thinking to a model of perimeter or geographic location based security to one that considers the data to be the perimeter, we need a technology and process model that enables us to pragmatically protect data wherever it flows. This includes lots of new device types like the iPad as well as cloud storage solutions. I am a significant user of cloud services, but I validate they are contractually and legally obliged to behave responsibly AND I assume they will screw it up, encrypting my data so that if they lose it it can't be accessed. The issue is more complex, but a start for 10.
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      Nov 9 2011: I am concerned about that as well, I think someday they gonna mess it up, but about the consequences of that I am not so optimistic.
  • Oct 23 2011: I believe that if your information is on any system that is networked in any way, your information is at risk. I am becoming a fan of being able to store my information in the cloud because we recently lost our house to a fire and everything that was not stored online (pictures, documents etc.) was lost.
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      Oct 23 2011: oh man , I am so sorry to hear that :(

      I have every bit of information that I have backed up online , but I wanted to know how everybody else feels about this.
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    Oct 21 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI7JmLiaLzQ. The link is to a quite intresting talk on the risk identified by our friends at Gartner.
  • Oct 21 2011: I love the idea of having more access to even more data. One thing I would love to see is medical information consolidated -- all test reports, meds and history in one convenient location, accessible to any authorized personnel who miight need it to save my life, or the life of someone I love. I have some personal privacy concerns about having some data misused if it is available online. I am making an assumption that certain things woud remain encrypted and password protected, like our bank accounts and credit cards.After reading several posts, I can really see the value of having so much historical data available to mine. Archeaologists and anthropologists, and data lovers of all types, would just need some device to drill for any kind of information we can imagine. Perhaps our Starbucks coffee cup would be all we'd need to look for date in. Or eyeglasses. It would be pretty neat to have information appear right before our eyes.Maybe if all our financial information were more transparent, it would have the effect of flattening incomes, and being an equalizer of sorts. Even a little redistribution of wealth would be a good thing. Maybe it is the only way that the world would not be so polarized into rich and poor. A little more equity would be a good thing. Since we are just talking about ideas and imagining what could be, why not imagine less poverty, no starvation and less hunger, all as a long term goal of the sharing of the world's information. And in Internet terms, long term goal is in the 10 to 20 year range. With enough information and with enough wisdom to manage it, world peace becomes imaginable. So, to go completely in left field, besides working on sharing information, data, documents in all formats -- another little side project for someone like Tim to play around with in his spare time could be a way to share wisdom and good decision making. That would keep him busy for a while.
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      Oct 21 2011: Our progress in the history was because of information, the one who were better informed always had a better wealth , health and a better society. Inventions happen when people know everything there is to know and something to it.

      So based on that having more information can help knowledge and I am totally into that idea, be it used in Medical , Anthropology, Psychology, Behavioral science ......

      But every great power has two sides to it, and is a double edged sword, with Nuclear power we can light up city or light it up in another way.

      This , believe it or not by my sight is more powerful than Nuclear energy or anything else that we invented or discovered so far. This is us.
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    Oct 19 2011: IMHO. in a way nothing is safe online or in a way everything is. Most often it is the end users (we) who usually fail to adhere to the guidelines laden by the manufacturer of a particular product. Moreover, various protective measures are implemented by service providers, but if at all there are flaws in coding of a website or an application and has a back door, fraudsters would try to compromise the loop hole and carry out unethical activities.

    Cloud too is no different than that, what can be done to safeguard your existence over the web is to strictly follow the instructions of the service provider.
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      Oct 19 2011: I don't mind having my data online and having a safe and secure back up is exactly what I d love .

      The only thing is I hate the SPAM emails , hundreds of WEB CAM girls who ask to be on your yahoo list and millions of services who like to misused my personal info.

      I am dead sure Apple would never do that, I am an Apple certified Editor and I put my life on their services

      but I have no idea how many of these spammers are out there who would love to get their hands on my address book and friends info to send them fake Emails from Me and ask them to do money transfer to a bank in Africa and all that. These are the things that I am sure happened to all of us before , and might happen even more.
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    Oct 15 2011: Funny that I thought it is gonna be a hot topic but apparently it is not even interesting :)
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      Oct 15 2011: Amir, this IS interesting, you just opened this debate, be patient...
      I sometimes found ideas here or debates when they were closed or about to expire, and wished I could have participated earlier. The point is, I am not sure how the system here places the conversations. Who is at the top of the list when you first log in? Who gets pushed down and why?

      Again, not sure, but it is still worth playing.

      So, is it risky to put our personal data on the web?
      Yes, just as much as it is to save in your own computer, or even simply type -regardless of where you save your documents. It is not difficult nowadays to follow someone's every word from an outside computer. Hacking and technological espionage are pretty developed already. Do you want to test this? Type or search for today's politically incorrect words, and see what happens. We already lost our privacy.
      So is your question pointing to other risks?

      One advantage I see is that, if my computer crashes (TGFM=thanks God for macs) I will not have lost my documents (keep in mind that portable hard drives crash too, taking with them what you thought safe...)
      Conversely, if say, Google, goes out of business, or merges with others and is "re-structured", you may also lose all that you though was safely stored online.

      Bottom line, like a wise man said a little while ago on TED.com, live the present!
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        Oct 15 2011: ha ha , I love the wise man's mantra , I d love to live the present.

        I don't believe in conspiracy theory but without a shadow of a doubt we are being monitored and tracked , our mobile phones , our online behavior ,specially our Kinects, our every move can be analyzed and tracked thanks to Gyro and GPS sensors of our iPhone or things very similar.

        The 3rd Episode of BBC's Virtual Revolution by Aleks Krotoski is really amazing and the title is THE COST OF FREE. It is about How companies like FACEBOOK or GOOGLE are making money by offering free services.

        I have everything that is very important to me backed up online , so I am participating already, and I am not afraid , I don't do anything against anyone , I don't have anything to hide.
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          Oct 16 2011: Conspiracy is all around us. Whenever two or more gather and plot to deceive... happens with advertising all the time.