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The No.1 Reason I Won’t Be Using Amazon Cloud Drive

The No.1 Reason I Won't Be Using Amazon Cloud Drive | 40Tech

Amazon recently launched its Cloud Drive service offering users 5 GB of free online storage, with very competitive plans that essentially amount to yearly subscriptions of $1/GB, going up as high as 1000 GB. When combined with the Amazon Cloud Player (US-only), which allows you stream your music files from any computer or Android device, and doesn’t count Amazon MP3 purchases against your subscription limit, the Amazon Cloud Drive seems like one hell of a deal! The Amazon servers are some of the best out there, and unlike services like Microsoft’s SkyDrive, there are no limitations as to what can be uploaded as long as you own the files and their contents, don’t violate any laws by storing them, and agree not to upload anything that could be potentially dangerous.

All very reasonable and expected, no? Be a law-abiding and conscientious citizen, use the service responsibly, and you’re golden, right? Right — unless you enjoy the possibility of your privacy being infringed upon at the whim of a large corporation.

My problem with the Amazon Cloud Drive service, no matter how good it might be, all boils down to a single clause in their terms of service — which I hope that everyone who signed up for the service (or any service) read thoroughly. In section 5.2 of the Terms of Use, Amazon clearly states the following:

5.2.Our Right to Access Your Files. You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law.

Giving a corporation and its designated appointees the right to access, keep, use, and share both my account information and my personal and business files is something that I’m simply not comfortable with. I understand the concept of limited access to files for the purposes of technical support, and I even get holding them on the order of a court of law or government body, but the use of the phrase “as we determine is necessary to provide the Service” is playing a bit too fast and loose for me. I have no idea what they might determine is necessary — it’s completely arbitrary. I am reasonably certain that, if there were victims of some sort of foul play resulting from that phrase, a court of law would be able to find in favour of those victims, but who wants to be a victim, even potentially? Don’t we have enough problems with digital privacy already?

The Amazon Cloud Drive is promising, but for a service that is fending off criticisms from the music industry by touting itself as a personal hard drive, they certainly don’t provide the end-user with anything even close to resembling the right to privacy that is inherent in a true personal hard drive. I hope that users read and thoroughly understand the fine print before they decide to upload their lives to this service!

What do you think of the Amazon Cloud Drive and its terms of use?

Fend Off Tracking Cookies, Keep Functionality With Disconnect [Google Chrome]

Cookies. We have a love hate relationship with them. They track what we do and report all kinds of information back to the site that generated them — and to third parties as well, in many cases. But they also often provide a better user experience, keeping track of our preferences and removing small annoyances like having to sign in to a website every single time we open it up. Unfortunately, as is the case with most things on the internet regarding your privacy and security, the only completely effective way to protect yourself is to simply turn the potential problem off. The only problem with this course of action is that turning off cookies also has the effect of making a huge part of the web practically unusable.

So what to do about it? Well, if you use Google Chrome, try out Disconnect.

Disconnect, which was created by a former Google employee, is a Google Chrome Extension that helps you to keep your personal data safe while still maintaining the ability to work effectively with sites like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and others. You may run into a few issues now and again, but overall, the experience is fairly seamless. All you need to do is install the Disconnect extension in your Google Chrome browser, make sure the extension is turned on, then watch as the tally of daily attempted intrusions upon your privacy climbs. The basic functionality, and much of the more advanced uses, of the webapps should work without problems, helping you to do what you like, and search for what you like, without passing along any personally identifiable data. If you have need to unblock a service, say to do something like play Facebook games, it’s a simple matter of a click on the extension’s dropdown menu (which includes Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Yahoo, and Google).

Disconnect Extension for Google Chrome in Action

Disconnect is open source software. Download it for Google Chrome here.

Disconnect for Chrome Disables Third-Party Tracking While Keeping Webapps Operational [Lifehacker]

Do You Trust Facebook?


The rest of the world doesn’t seem to care, but the tech community is afire concerning Facebook’s privacy problems, and its seeming disregard for its users in its pursuit of the almighty dollar (or Euro, or whatever).  Leo Laporte, patron saint of the Internet, has deactivated all of his Facebook accounts, crediting this post from Jason Calacanis with convincing him.

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