Online Storage

Maybe I’ve fallen for all the conspiracy talk, and maybe I’ve watched the Terminator movies too often, but I’ve been keeping my eye on developments from Google since they went public and their stock price went through the roof, and I’m officially worried. Until last week, I was just uneasy.

So here I sit reading in two days, two articles about the rumoured GDrive that was mentioned at their investor presentation last week. In short, Google is rumoured to be developing an online storage mechanism to maintain a “golden copy” of your data on their servers and let you access them from anywhere in the world, plus it avoids any hassles of data loss because you’re only storing a copy on your local machine.

The idea is not new. I’ve been selling online data backups through my company for almost three years now, and all IT geeks know that the best place to store data is on a server that is in a controlled environment. What Google is doing though, is using their (for all intents and purposes) infinite storage capacity to keep your data safe.

Fine, it’s a noble idea. And as far as my privacy is concerned, Google has so far proved their mettle and strongly objected to handing over their search statistics to the US Government, as read in the news.

But I’m not worried about the US Government (well, not in this case), because the real worry lies with storing my private information on the same network, under the same roof, as the company that can find data about any person, anywhere, at any time. Perhaps I’m overexaggerating for effect, but the time will come when Google can track changes on the World Wide Web within minutes or seconds.

Google has so far proved that they are honouring the right to privacy. That’s great, but it’s also aiming to become a $100bn company. Microsoft and General Electric already are (or have been in the past), but Google has the power because it has the information at its fingertips already.

Now, let’s just say for a moment that someone writes a worm that can penetrate Google’s security through some obscure hole in their defences. As a network engineer, I was taught that the only safe computer is the one that’s turned off, so it’s a possibility.

Now let’s say that this worm allows some sentient being, whether human or computer, to search through Google’s massive parallel-processing datagrid. Sure, we’re already screwed because Google indexes over ten billion web pages, but now just imagine that my personal data, containing sensitive information, is revealed to that sentient being.

The most valuable asset on this planet, as far as most civilised people are concerned, is time and intellectual property. Given enough time, everyone will come up with the same ideas; and given the intellectual property, time can be better managed and saved. Now you have (for argument’s sake) everyone’s personal and privileged intellectual property in one place, under one roof, on one datagrid, protected by a $100bn corporation run by two mavericks who already have access to every other piece of information about you that’s in the public domain. And imagine, if you will, that the FBI / CIA / NIA / your government has personal and privileged data about you stored in the same place. Now take the world’s most powerful search engine and plug it in, with that malignant worm in place.

Do you want your personal data stored with Big Brother?