back to article Google Chrome OS mauled by Richard Stallman

Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman has attacked Google's still-gestating Chrome OS, arguing it's designed "to push people into careless computing." Stallman – who created the free Unix-style GNU operating system – has never been a fan of so-called cloud computing. At one point, he called it "worse than stupidity …


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  1. Russ Tarbox
    Black Helicopters

    So what's Richard trying to hide?

    What does he have that he doesn't want the police having? And who's to say the FBI, CIA and so forth don't already have back doors into all our computers anyway ...

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      I'm assuming sarcasm

      But if not, I'm fairly secure in the fact that a back door is useless behind an open sourced firewall...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You can be assured that

      those three letters agencies already have a backdoor access into your Windows computer. It would be way much harder with Linux or *BSD. In case you were not aware this is the purpose of free software. It's not the software that's free, it's you.

      As for having nothing to hide from the police, you're naively assuming the police and government agencies and their employees are 100% honest and the justice system is working correctly to protect your freedoms. I hope that looking at the Wikileaks saga you'll admit this is a risky bet.

      1. snafu

        OpenBSD gruyere?


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Paris Hilton


          Is this why it's called OPENBSD?

          Paris because......oh, never mind!

    3. Anonymous Coward

      I know what Stallman is hiding...

      ...his growing irrelevance. (and while I am a linux user, I expect fellow penguins to downvote me - but hopefully after reading the full post.).

      Stallman has lived in a world where he fought the right to modify/enhance/etc the computer, just like you would be able to do so on a car or a piece of furniture you own. By handing over data to the cloud - you are no longer buying the car - you are renting a taxi. And you can't morally claim the right to modify the taxi. That upsets the worls view in which he was fighting and was relevant. Stallman and FSF would become irrelevant in a cloud computing world. That irks him. And instead of working on making FSF relevant where it is still applicable, he is throwing mud on the taxi. I, for one, expected better from him.

      I concede that the issue he raises is not trivial - is your data better with you or in the cloud. I would say, for a geek like myself, its better with me. But I am not sure if my mom running windows is able to protect her credit card info better than, say, amazon. Stallman, having been surrounded by geeks like me for last 30 years, is unable to imagine users like my mom -who need the utility computing. Add privacy in the mix, and even geeks like me make mistakes.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: I know what Stallman is hiding...

        "renting a taxi"??

        "can't morally claim the right to modify the taxi"??

        So your saying that if I buy a ChromeOS system, I'm not actually buying it, I'm just renting it? Or do you mean that by putting my data in the cloud I relinquish ownership of my data?

        If I pay for a device, it's mine, I own it, and likewise, if I put my data in the cloud, it doesn't cease to be my property. I'm not a fellow penguin, but you can still go fuck yourself!!!

        1. penguin slapper

          Try thinking for a change

          He didn't mean "if you put your data in "the cloud" you no longer own it" (even though that is in itself basically true - try taking Microsoft or Google to court for access if they claim "to have accidentally lost your data) he said "you lose control over it".

          It might not mean much to you (even though it should mean a lot), but to some of us it's of paramount importance and it has nothing to do with the utterly childish assertion that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" (which historically is a poor excuse for state snooping).

          Once the day comes when when the only place for you to store your data is "in the cloud" you will find that you are mugged for "storage charges" - this is the ultimate subscription model - you will be charged by volume, type, frequency of access. The software you need to process your own files will also be "rented" to you. You will a perfectly captivated slave.

          First they introduce computers, then when computers are a vital part of every day life they take the means of local storage off you and make you pay and pay and pay.

          But hey, it's OK, because somebody's Mom will find it 'easy' so f*ck everyone else eh?

        2. Svantevid

          @ AC 15.12.2010. 06:05

          "likewise, if I put my data in the cloud, it doesn't cease to be my property."


          AC, have you missed the "In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company's machines instead of your own" part of his statement?


          My private data are(*) my private data when they areon my HDD. When I put them on Google's server, they are no longer private.

          (*) "data" is plural of "datum". Can any grammar pedant correct this foreigner if he's wrong? :-)

          1. AdamWill


            "(*) "data" is plural of "datum". Can any grammar pedant correct this foreigner if he's wrong? :-)"

            theoretically, you're right. in practice, virtually everyone treats 'data' as if it were a singular noun, and since English is a language defined mostly by general usage (there's no official arbiter of what's Correct English and what isn't, unlike, say, French), it's probably best just to go with the flow. There's kind of a tipping point, with English 'errors', where they become so common they're just correct, and anyone trying to use the 'real correct' form just looks like an irritating pedant. I'd say 'data' is on the other side of that tipping point, by now. =)

          2. Gerry Doyle 1

            You say data, I say data

            'Data' can also be the feminine singular in Latin, and that would be in accord with the normal usage of the word in English, as a singular collective rather than a plural - so it's more natural to say 'my private data IS my private data'.

            1. AdamWill

              erm. no.

              If you're just looking at noun endings, sure, you could look at 'data' and think, 'hmm, that might be a feminine singular noun'. But, er, we know what words exist in Latin and what words don't. There's no feminine singular noun 'data' (okay, okay, maybe there's some really obscure one or something, I don't have a freaking degree, but it sure doesn't mean what 'datum' means). There's a neuter singular noun 'datum', of which the plural nominative form is 'data'. You can't really use that argument, I'm afraid. =)

              1. Michael Dunn


                Plaudio te!

        3. Ian Johnston Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Whose software

          If you use Google Docs to do your wordprocessing your are probably not going to have much joy if you insist that they show you the source code.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: I know what Stallman is hiding...

        > is your data better with you or in the cloud. I would say, for a geek like myself, its better with me. But I am not sure if my mom running windows is able to protect her credit card info better than, say, amazon.

        If she has a son or daughter who's a geek, her computer should be well locked down.

        However the real trouble is that the cloud-based services offer large attractive targets for hackers or government, where if they succeed they won't just get one person's credit card or supposedly private info, but that of thousands. It's just a matter of time before they suffer a WikiLeaks-scale exposure. And events like that don't just hurt individuals, but dent confidence in the online world as whole.

        Yes, security on local computers can be improved, but at least you have some control over it. With the cloud you are delegating that control to persons unknown. Do you know the number and identity of the employees at your favourite cloud provider who can access your data? Would you let every one of them into your home?

      3. Kurgan
        Thumb Down

        I don't agree.

        While I understand the whole "the user is the first security problem", I think that Stallman is right. Pushing incompetent or lazy people to store their data out of their computers makes for a perfectly wrong world, where we own nothing. Think Apple, only bigger. The phone (you can insert "computer" here) that I have paid for requires a subscription to be useful, and then I can only install the apps that Apple (you can insert "Google" here) wants me to install. I have to pay, if required to do so. I cannot install any free alternative app. I have to accept that Google (or you can insert "Apple" here) has access to all of my data, can disable or enable apps at their like (even easier when the apps are not actually loaded on my computer). I have basically no enforceable rights on anything. Anything I have bought, installed, or written by myself. All of the apps and data "are belong to Google" (if you pardon my nerdy reference here).

        Stallman is absolutely right. While "commodity computing" is a great thing in terms of usability, it surely is not in terms of privacy and civil rights.

      4. AdamWill

        not a question of 'protection'

        it's not a question of protection. sure, amazon or google probably have better data security policies than your average computer user, so the data is less likely to be lost. the problem is that once you put your data onto amazon or google's servers, it is to all intents and purposes not your data any more. It's amazon or google's data, and they're just letting you use it. They now have effective control of it, meaning they can access it directly if they care about it, or (more likely) use it for purposes of statistical profiling for selling to advertisers and so forth. the erosion of common privacy is as important as the erosion of personal privacy. and, of course, there's the more humdrum problems: what happens if they go titsup, or just decide to charge more/some money? you'd hope they'd have a sensible policy in place to give you a transition period, but most cloud services don't *commit* to it, and there's no legal requirement that they do. essentially by sending your data to a cloud provider you're saying 'here, have this, do whatever you like with it, and I hope you don't lose it, but if you do, hey, I'm screwed'. is that really what you want?

        maybe with a decent regulatory framework and several decades of experience we'll get this right, but I'm really not getting good vibrations about being in for the pain at the start. anyone reading el reg really ought to be capable of achieving all the benefits of 'cloud computing' without having to use anyone else's servers (see for my particular setup), or in a position to hire someone who can do it for you. Sure, that doesn't apply to every sucker on the street, but then, why would you care about them?

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Thumb Up


          "maybe with a decent regulatory framework and several decades of experience we'll get this right, "

          I think that's the bit that is missing.

          Getting that framework built (and enforced) will not be easy.

          Expect saturation levels of whining from Google/Amazon/Facebook/MySpace (let's not forget that last one is now part of Rupert Newscorp-does-whatever-the-Chinese-govt-tells-them-to Murdoch's media empire. Expect plenty of verbiage which basically translates to "We can't make any money if people want to keep their stuff secret"

          (Note that use of "secret" implying you have something to hide.rather than "private" as in MYOFB)

          Exciting times.

          Expect lots of drama.

      5. Tom 7 Silver badge

        And you let your mum drive your car without driving lessons?

        Just because any idiot can get on a PC and loose there personal information and you think that's progress doesn't make it so.

        Stallman might be a miserable 'luddite' but in ten years time you'll be wishing you'd listened more closely to what he says - if your allowed to wish that is.

      6. Anonymous Coward

        Call me paranoid

        Fabulous, stick all you data in "the cloud", I'm sure you can trust the likes of Amazon and Google, that's not sarcasm, I am genuinely serious.

        What about all the backups and secondary storage devices these companies use? What happens when the hardware hits end-of-life and the one disk that's supposed to end up at the crushers doesn't make it and ends up on eBay by mistake? What then? You and dozens of other people all over the world in different jurisdictions will have to fight tooth'n'nail to get this one device recovered and destroyed, if that is even possible.

        I have 14 busted harddisks in my spare room, buried under a pile of other crap. They range from a piddly little 2GB thing to a couple of 400GB drives. I have drilled holes in them in six places but I refuse to take then down the local dump for crushing as I don't have an exact listing of what personal info is on them. The one thing I do know for sure, they are safe, they are my property as is info on them. I know exactly where they are!

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Hide, all the Open Source Pr0n of course

      Open source pr0n is much better quality than the stuff that the fbi can get their "hands on" and you are a lot less likely to get stds.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Hide, all the Open Source Pr0n

      OS pr0n is known to be way better than the stuff that the Fbi can get there hands on

    6. jake Silver badge

      @Russ Tarbox

      Have curtains on your windows, and a door to your bathroom? What are you trying to hide?

    7. Elmer Phud

      forgot something?

      What about 'Chinese manufacturers have installed control chips to all thier hardware'.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Or possible, idiot. I suppose they're not mutually exclusive.

      OT: What happened to the icon one could click to see the parent post? Quoting doesn't really make any sense anymore.

    9. Hayden Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?

      That's a very NuLab civil liberties idea.

      We already did that one.....

    10. Russ Tarbox

      It was sarcasm.

      However today's news about OpenBSD has made reading some of these responses quite amusing.

  2. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Well Mauled, Richard

    This is a necessary first step to turn computers into appliances.

    The 'fridge does not shut down when you leave for work in the morning and cool off again before you get home ... or does it ? ... have you noticed any excessive spoilage lately ? Would you ? Salmonella is just a natural part of life, right ?

    If you pervert technology to make a buck, are you anti-science ? Yes, I think so.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Engineering is not science.

      Wouldn't that be "anti-engineering?"

      Henry Petroski: "Take this year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. No one, to the best of my knowledge, blamed it on science. Poor engineering decisions allowed gas to escape from a well in deep water, which in turn caused a fatal explosion. Subsequently, the engineered blowout preventer failed, and for months oil escaped into the environment. Poor engineering got us into the mess; surely only good engineering could get us out of it. Yet repeatedly, government and other research scientists were allowed to veto the engineering tactics needed to staunch the flow. In the end, of course, it was engineering that finally capped the well."

      1. g e

        Of course

        how else could the united state of americaland efectively seize control of BP otherwise.

        Solving it efficiently just wouldn't have allowed that, not at all, no sir.

        Just waiting for Shell to have a mysterious catastrophe now and that'll polish off the Dutch contingent.

  3. Annihilator Silver badge

    He's not wrong..

    Cloud computing only works if you know exactly what you're getting into and have full SLAs against it. For example, Microsoft's Azure is subject to US laws, even if you are UK based, as there is no telling where your data will end up. Bob Muglia of MS recently confirmed that if US Homeland Security asked for data about a UK company that was held in their cloud infrastructure, they would have no choice but to move it from Dublin to the US, and hand it straight over.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward

        re: of course he's wrong

        You're disagreeing because you don't understand, not because he's wrong.

      2. dog2god

        Stallman and Tovalds

        Stallman managed to write a lot of the software you are using. Tovalds created the Linux kernel, but what good is one without the other? Your comparison is a poorly thought out one; and, when you think about it Tovalds did not create the Linux kernel on his own. He got as far as he could with it then released it to fellow hackers to modify and improve. At one time Stallman was writing software against people who were writing software that wouldn't be free and would not give you any freedom. Richard Stallman deserves a lot of respect, because I doubt you could have done what he did do. Why don't you think about that?

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Muglia on Homeland Security

      Care to enlighten us with a link to the source?

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        re: Muglia on Homeland Security

        Jon Honeyball, this month's PC Pro. He's been trying to get an answer for about 2 years.

  4. Neal 5

    Takes paranoia to a new level.

    Unfortunately,he may be correct about many aspects of his whinge. Seems to me,it doesn't make any difference if it's on the "cloud"or not. If someone wants the data they'll get it one way or another. Just ask Google or the 33 other companies about it, and how much of that was "cloud" based.

    Careless computing doesn't start at the "cloud". and maybe, just maybe, the FSF can confirm that.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Please read carefully what RMS said.

      If data is stored on your personal hard-disk inside your home, authorities can not just come in and have it without breaking some basic laws protecting your private property. Now if your data is stored you don't know where, your provider has no obligation to protect your private property.

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        Google are loath to ever delete anything and probably couldn't even if they wanted to. Even if they had an explicit Delete that actually removed a row of data from a database, there is invariable going to be a backup of your data somewhere which won't be affected. And it's not like online services even offer a delete function - more often it just hides the data but its still there on a server somewhere.

        For most people this probably doesn't matter. But I imagine there are times when someone actually does want to erase data or withold for reasons which are not necessarily illegal. For example, I expect it will become common for Google to be served during divorce proceedings, and of course if everyone is online using the same service it becomes trivial for Google to cooperate with law enforcement, profiling people, snooping their email and so forth.

        Of course someone could go overboard and be overly paranoid, but the bottom line is you are relinquishing control of your own data to an unaccountable corporation. You should exercise some healthy paranoia about the possible consequences.

  5. Franklin

    A title is required

    Corome shocked--rms says something that's actually reasonable.

    Most days, I wouldn't trust him to tell me the sky is blue; I'd go outside and check. But in this, he's absolutely right. Data stored in "the cloud" might not be yours at all. It's vulnerable, not just to seizure by law enforcement but also to hackers and corrupt, careless, or unethical employees of whatever service you're subscribing to.

    Now, many folks probably don't have any data that's actually worth anything, so whatever. But folks who do might be well advised to consider what he says.

  6. Lars Silver badge


    Has a point, no doubt.

  7. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    Some of my mail I _do_ send on postcards.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Stallman has a very valid point, but the risks are avoidable for the foreseeable future.

    One could run Chrome OS on a device that has a decent amount of local storage. Encrypt the disk with TrueCrypt, configured with an outer data volume and a hidden OS volume. Use Chrome OS for general browsing, and the inner OS for everything else. It might even help with plausible deniability; forced to hand over the password to the outer decoy volume, you might have a decent shot at claiming that the only purpose of the drive was for just such offline file storage.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Why bother?

      Why go through all that rigmarol just to get a secure, private O/S/ The joy of FLOSS is that there is plenty of choice, GNU/Linux/ the BSDs and so on. Just because it comes from Google diesn't make it a mandatory install. Just say NO!

      1. Alvero

        Plenty of what now?

        Choice? A choice between scores of half-baked variants of a 1960s OS (Unix) is not a choice in any real terms. If anyone had come up to me back in 1985 or so while I was slaving over a hot VT-100 and told me that come 2010 Unix, or derivatives thereof, would still be around and be so widespread I'd have laughed (or more likely cried).

        But here we are in the future and all we have to choose from are Windows in all its loathsome bodged-together glory, OS X (BSD in a fright wig and a red nose) and the wonderful world of Linux. Also, no flying cars :(

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Just look at what happens when you use gmail...

    ... Google's T&C's allow them to examine the content, publish and sell to anybody else they want (including Goverments) - you retain the copyright of the content (except for the mail that people send to you, which presumably is also up for sale) - but you give Google a license to play around with it and pass it around to whoever they choose forever,

    Cloud Computing - allowing other people to access your data from anywhere in the world at anytime.

    Google TV - the TV that watches *you* (only 26 years late).

  10. Catroast

    One Step Closer... the hive-mind.

    Why fight it?

    1. Rev. Ignatius Killfile
      Big Brother

      Err Because

      Err, Because I don't want to live in a homogenized society where Google can second guess my every move and intention based on demographics and my deviation from Statistical Norms. At 47 I guess I will be receiving a subscription for SAGA magazine some time soon. Oh well. Grump

  11. Rev. Ignatius Killfile

    Your data is valuable to us.

    It is not about privacy or freedom, it is about 'free'. By using Chrome OS you are giving your data away for free. Chrome OS is not designed for local file storage and I would not be surprised if the production Chrome appliance came with a read only file system.

    Google are not benignly offering free online storage, Google has an insatiable appetite for all data.

    The contents of your hard drive, your data, your pictures emails and documents may have no value to me, or to Joe hacker, but what if you had access to every hard drive on the planet?

    What if that (suitably anonymized ) data could be analyzed and correlated statistically?

    Would that data set have value to you?

    Think about it.

  12. tony

    Different user

    Googles cloud thingie is for a different class of user to Mr Stallman. Its for the casual user who doesn't understand that backups are a good thing for keeping their digital photographs safe etc. For example I know someone who had been safely backing up 100's of photographs onto a 16mb memory card. It's amazing how much space you get if you copy a shortcut rather than the actual photographs.....

    If someone were designing the next greatest text editor, i'd guess they'd be a little more competent and have backups.

    Yes they may be a dumb user, but most people are dumb users in one field or another. Me i'm crap at surgery although I can put a plaster on.

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


    Agreed. Stallman making sense does come as a shock to many. I am quite happy to keep some data (mailbox) on a mail server from company X (G actually). However, putting all my hard work (papers, code, etc) on a server I do not control is insane (unless I use it solely as off-site backup). I can already work "anywhere" by using rsync. Yes, this leads to data duplication, but then in my view data duplication is good because it enhances safety. My data are not (that) sensitive, so the loss of a laptop would not be an issue in terms of a security breach, at most a bit of data loss (no more than a day) due to data duplication.

    Cloud-based solutions are great for "on demand computing" where you have irregular peaks of highly distributable computationally intensive loads, interspersed with long periods of relative inactivity. I think they are wrong for many personal computing problems.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Legal position of all that data once it's in the "cloud"

    Sitting on *your* desk* in *your* home it's pretty clear.

    In the cloud *where* is it?

    Which jurisdiction?

    What are there disclosure laws? Search warrant or private phone call from local police/secret police/St John Ambulance?

    In *theory* the infrastructure should be *much* more reliable (near mainframe grade)

    But SFW if anything you hand over (like the latest backup copy of your software/hardware/drug) can be read by anyone with "authority" depending on wherever the hell on the planet it ends up. Or in the case of US corporations whatever their government asks them to transfer.

    It's legal as long as there is *no* law stopping them.

    Thumbs up. He's right. If you're happy to have *more* of your life known to any BOFH who cares to look and any "authorized" person who can ask for your data *whatever* that data is (personal or business) go right ahead.

    Privacy. Easy to loose. Damm hard to regain.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Chrome OS ?

    No Thanks !

    Keep using my favourite distro or if I'm really desperate then windows.

  16. Patrick O'Reilly


    so now, finally, you give the operating system its correct title.

    Anything less than GNU/Linux is like calling Windows "Registry", its an essential part of the system, but only a cog within the whole machine.

  17. Chris Miller

    Not an original idea

    "Google doesn't even offer a ready means of browsing your local file system."

    What, like the Holy iPad of Cupertino?

    1. stuhacking
      Jobs Halo

      Not the same thing at all, really

      On iOS devices, the apps are stored and run locally, The configuration is stored locally, email is stored locally depending on how you set that up, music files are local, documents are local, etc, etc...

      I don't need to browse the filesystem because the applications create an abstraction for me - and I'm glad of that particular time saving mechanism. iPod knows how to fetch my music, Address book knows how to get my contacts list, Safari knows where my bookmarks are. No - A filesystem browser would be a painful thing to have to use on a phone or any small form factor media device.

      The criticism of Chrome OS is that files are stored remotely and google apps are running remotely with no option to say "I *want* to keep some stuff local."

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    @ Michael 2

    "Because anyone sat now using the internet on a gnu/linux or windows operating system who thinks that makes a difference to where the data is, is just a fool."

    Sorry Michael, but I think it is you that is the fool here and I really think you have completely missed the point. I would explain, but I can't be bothered...

    ... Oh OK then I will, but do try to keep up please. I accept your point that all data relating to transactions that I may have made through Amazon, emails that are retained on the servers of my mail provider, and the content of all of the comments that I have ever made on El Reg are stored in servers remote to my home PC. What I think you miss though is that "data" in the context of this story does not ONLY relate to that particular data type.

    The real "data" that this story is referring to is the data that is held in the highly personal documents that people create to help them move through life - financial spreadsheets that people create to manage their investments, personal finances and home budgets for example, or personal documents that a person may have written via a word processor to their solicitor in relation to a confidential case of law that they may be involved in, or a love letter... or a set of financial reconciliations or tax books for a small company. Get it yet?

    These are not the sort of personal documents or "data" that should be created and held at the behest of a commercial advertising company such as Google. They have proven time after time that "customer data privacy" is the least of their worries, unless it can be leveraged for a profit.

    By all means, you go and live your life entirely on the web and I hope you sleep soundly knowing that all of your documents... including that one you wrote to your doctor about that certain medical condition, or that highly sensitive one where you secretly informed the authorities about your neighbours violent treatment of their child; are now effectively out of your control in terms of privacy. Me? I'll be staying with my Windows and Red Hat O/Ss thanks because there are certain personal data and information that should be under my control and my control only.

    Finally... I think you are an idiot. That is one piece of informative data that I am happy to share with the cloud.

  19. Steve X
    Thumb Down


    So, Stallman's just noticed that if you take something you own, and give it to someone else to look after, they might not be as careful with it as you would be? Especially if you've "signed" a weasel-worded "contract" that limits your rights? Wow, such insight.

    I would have thought the security hierarchy was fairly obvious, something like:

    Secured home PC = home wallsafe.

    Online banking = bank safety deposit box.

    Unsecured home PC = home cupboard.

    Cloud = rented box in out-of-town warehouse.

    All useful in their own way, but you wouldn't put your share certificates in the rented box (I hope).

    Is Stallman having a slow year?

    1. Kurgan
      Big Brother

      While this seems obvious to you...

      it does not seem so obvious to a lot of people. And Stallman is just explaining this to people who don't think about it by themselves. He is actually doing something useful, and I'd like to see him on TV, telling everyone how things work. Because a lot of us reader of ElReg do not need such an explanation, but quite everyone else in fact does.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    This happens all the time

    I got a letter from the government the other day; I opened it, read it, and it said THEY were suckers. They wanted me to place my data where they can seize it without showing them a search warrant, or whatever.

  21. Da Weezil
    Big Brother

    Its not a cloud.. its a data mine!

    I see the cloud fanbois are trotting out the usual B/S about email and transactions being held/traveling across other systems, the point is that they are "public matters" that you choose to share by sending an email or making a purchase you "opt in" to an interaction/footprint creation. The correspondence/photos etc that I have on my machine are mine and private and are not for analysis/correlation/categorization by some faceless company - nor are they for sharing with other commercial parasites... sorry..... partners... or with the authorities - unless the correct procedure has been followed and a warrant obtained.

    Nothing to hide - but I do have an expectation of privacy for my personal stuff which Google seem to find tiresome and as such I will be keeping myself and all of my family and friends off of this data mining enterprise

  22. Citizen Concerned

    dude --

    I don't know how I feel about moving my data to the clown - likely I don't like it, but tell me, is GNU really an operating system?

  23. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Sigh - here's a little light reading

    My problem with Stallman is that he says the right things, but in a way that seems to be designed to have them dismissed as soon as he utters them. The guy needs a PR agent to filter out the smell of his sandals.

    Anyway, here we go again: why you should not use ChromeOS and cloud services. See Scroll down to paragraph 11.1. Just in case you think that the ending sentence offers any kind of restraint on Google I suggest you really read the text in 11.2 and spot just how vague this is.

    In this respect, Google is an even bigger threat to your privacy as Farcebook.

    Oh, and "why you need privacy" is not the right question - you already have it as a human being, it's Human Right number 12. The question is why you should give it up that right when the other party doesn't give up their rights. Ask them how much they have in the bank, how large their mortgage is and what they earn per year. And if you can take a picture of their kids - taken at any time in the day - and show it to everyone. No? Well, that's privacy.

    The US would really like access to everything that moves without ANY reciprocity. Other nations should have full access to passenger manifests of any flight originating in the US and their credit card spending records, because the last time I looked, the 9/11 guys were actually INSIDE the US.. And who is going to treat all those people who get cancer as a result of Xray overdosing by backscatter scanners?

    I know, I know. Far too awkward questions to answer..

  24. px1

    Now vs Later

    The issue is that companies, governments, laws and risks change over time.

    One might feel comfortable storing all files in "the cloud" now, but how easy would it be to move and/or remove "without trace" that data should the situation change.

    A good example might be a smallish cloud based company with good ethics gets taken over by another far less ethical company, out to cut costs and make money any way possible. How secret and secure are your files then?

    Even if you deleted your files and closed your account, are those files really gone, or will they still be on there on disk and tape for many years to come.

    Hosts of cloud based apps have to make money some how, and If your data is their asset, who is to say they won't keep it until the end of time.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    sorry. but when did he suddenly start getting all precious about where and how DATA is stored?

    Richards only purpose is to extol the virtues of Open Source - access to the raw code so that users can freely do things that they want. trying to get involved with off-user-system data storage is another thing altogether.

    okay Richard, how about we make a deal - all off-system data is user-encrypted with say 2048bit strength key. the law can then get that data....but if they want to use/read it, they'll have to

    approach the user rather than casually just taking it from the service provider.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Please, don't be silly!

      Look at the troubles Blackberry had because governments don't like not having access to users data. Do you really think a service provider will allow you to use their infrastructure to store your encrypted data ?

    2. Svantevid

      @ AC 15.12.2010. 13:02

      "sorry. but when did he suddenly start getting all precious about where and how DATA is stored?"


      His goal is still the same... personal freedoms. Freedom in using an OS, freedom in using your personal data. Your computer is *your* computer, your data is *your* data.

  26. /dev/null


    Apart from the whole security/privacy/trust aspect, the biggest irony about the whole cloud/careless computing paradigm for me is a technological one - nowadays you can have a computer sitting on your knees that is capable of more than 4 billion instruction cycles a second, has enough RAM to max out a 32-bit address bus, a quarter-terabyte of mass storage and a dedicated 3D graphics processor. Yet the new world order means that you will be using a tiny fraction of its capabilities by treating it as a fancy graphics terminal, and all your data and computing is meant to be on some anonymous server on the other side of the planet. How does this make any sense?

  27. anger

    reality check

    It's so sad to see how people nowadays are forced to accept these ridiculous ToS which only serve wallets of corporations and not their customers. And that's not limited to FREE services.

    "Unlimited" is "very limited" in their dictionaries. They can terminate services they provide to their customers without any reason and not be accountable for. And so on. How long before our salaries will go straight to these companies first, then they'll just give us some pocket money or store credit, so we can make it to the next month.

    We need a wakeup call.

  28. PhilipN

    'kin' hell!

    Conundrum :

    My bank (for 30+ years) has more financial info about me than I could store on a DVD.

    Then why every time I break wind do they ask for something which ought to be available to (ahem) "them" at the touch of a button?

    Because (1) there is the human interface and (2) they have NO CLUE what to do with the info, why it is relevant, how to organise it, how to access it,,,, etc etc etc


    This is the beginning of the Info Era when we learn how to commoditise the use of information not just how to store and index it.

    Data mining is a term I first saw, what, 5 years ago?

    Snort... snigger....

  29. Pahhh

    Stallman = Irrelevant

    For every ounce of wisdom he may deliver, he dumps one ton of irrelevant misguided crap.

    Like any good charlatan, he teases you with half truths and makes causal links to utter nonsense.

    Analysing anything he says is painful. You have to pick out the bits that make sense, and generally are common sense, out of the crude evangelising of his deluded life beliefs.

    I know I will get downthumbed for my comments but just before you do, do me a favour. Spend the time and watch some of his lectures. There are plenty out there on YouTube. At the very least, watch one from start to finish. He is a brilliant speaker and really quite engaging. Albiet delusional. Here is one of his milder ones:

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am not a fan of rms I admit

    but I will concede he has a point: Cloud computing is fraught with potential issues and solutions such as Google's Chrome offering should only be embraced by those with an understanding of the terms and possible consequences of doing so.

    However, it appears he is going about it the wrong way. Completely.

    Freedom is all really about choice. In any context of freedom. If you are "free" to make any choice you wish* then you have freedom, if not then not. So rms should really be embracing Chrome, and Windows and Apple etc. rather than slagging them off. No problem with him educating people to the shortcomings and pitfalls in each choice but surely the godfather of the freedom movement should be messing his pants regularly over all the options and choices available.

    linux is as popular as it is because there are a number of people who want or require the ability to do anything they chose with their computer. Windows is as popular as it is because it is familiar, easy to use and there is shed loads of software available. Mac OS is as popular as it is because some people just want to be different. But none of that makes any of them inherently bad. Or for that matter inherently good.

    What is good is that we have a choice. If it were down to rms, at the very best the only choice we would get would be with GNU/linux distribution to use.

    *OK to the pedants, I am aware it is arguably impossible to be free to make _any_ choice - I couldn't chose to teleport to France or to become emperor of the world, say - but let's assume we all accept stuff not conforming to common legal, practical and physical constraints as being outside the scope of this discussion.

  31. maccy

    No-one's forcing you.

    Don't like Chrome OS? Then just don't buy the fucking thing.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Economics Are Strongly For The Cloud

    Just think about Email/Office cooperation programs like Lotus Notes or These systems are way too complex for most users, including companies having 10000 employess and billions of revenue. Even IBM will be hard pressed to properly configure and run Notes, I guess.

    This is just one example of something way to complex and expensive to properly run by an end-user company. That's why this kind of service will move into the cloud.

    Large corporations will simply mandate where their data is to be stored and they already trust the "finance cloud" (the banking system). And the "distance-talking cloud". And the "electricity cloud". And the "gas cloud"

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Look up Isiah Berlin and the idea of -ve and +ve liberty

    -ve liberty is the right to *not* have your email, telephone or post opened or tapped.

    +ve liberty is the right to sign up to a service that will copy and study *every* computer readable document you generate

    What people will do to exercise their rights, eh?

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