This week, it was revealed that two of the most powerful software companies transmit private data to their servers. In case of Apple i-Cloud, even the contents of unsaved documents are transmitted. Have you ever typed a letter, only to find it too harsh, and decided not to send it? Well, courtesy of Apple, that letter may now be stored forever. And given their participation in NSA PRISM program (which they deny), your private venting – that you may have never sent to anyone – may end up in their vast databases.
Adobe e-book reader sends your reading log back to Adobe. I have started boycotting Adobe software ever since they have gone the ‘software as a service’ route. For occasional users, paying $10/month for software they may use once or twice a year is clearly a rip-off. Now it seems they are not content with taking your money for something you rarely use – they want a log of your reading habits as well. Why would they need such information and for what purpose, I have no idea. It’s a good thing I don’t read e-books. When it comes to literature, I prefer the good old paper.
The problem is not just that a ‘Company X’ has access to your private data. In many cases, their EULA’s specifically mention users’ acceptance of data collection and retention policies (even if most people never read them). The problem is that once there, the data is vulnerable to all sorts of attackers. And as Bruce Schneier so eloquently points out here, technology doesn’t have morals. It’s impossible to design a security system that would be immune against the bad guys while allowing the ‘good guys’ to access data in the name of protecting the rest of us. And since NSA is bent on weakening the Internet so it can ‘collect it all’, it makes the whole thing less secure for all of us.
Bottom line: I don’t use i-Cloud, and I don’t read e-books.