There was an interesting article on CNET News on September 12, 2008 describing a forum on cloud computing hosted by Google.  The article provides a series of quotes from members of the panel.

Notable comments from Mike Nelson, a visiting professor at Georgetown University's Center for Communication, Culture, and Technology and a former tech policy adviser under the Clinton administration:

  • "Most users understand enough" to feel comfortable with cloud computing, Nelson said, "but they don't understand what can happen to that information. There's a definite need for education in that area."
  • politicians needed to learn more about the implications of cloud computing as well
  • "The government has an almost unlimited capacity to screw up things," Nelson said. "We've got some huge challenges ahead of us."

Notable comments from Ari Schwartz, vice president and chief operating officer for the Center for Democracy and Technology, said

  • there should be enough protections and privacy options for consumers online that "we should get to a point where it doesn't make a difference" how much users understand about the privacy risks of cloud computing
  • "Consumers expect their information (on the cloud) to be treated as if it were stored on a home computer," Schwartz said
  • once a user moves his data online, he loses the Constitutional rights he would have had over the data on a home computer

I firmly agree in this assessment: consumers and policy makers both need to understand the implications of privacy in the world of cloud computing.  Privacy is a very important matter when it comes to cloud computing, especially in terms of data.  In the course I taught this Spring, I was SHOCKED at how naive the students were about privacy on the Internet and spent a class teaching them about how they lose all privacy once they're on line.

I also think that during this time that the cloud is becoming a dominant computing platform it is extremely important that consumers are aware of the privacy policies of the providers of their cloud services.  Ultimately it is the consumer who needs to understand where their data lives and the implications of that data falling into the wrong hands.  I firmly believe that the companies that implement policies that respect the privacy of their customers will win the largest amount of market share in this emerging platform.

Here is the link to the full article: