It's been well over a decade since we started storing some of our data on remote servers on the Internet, but now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) thinks there might be an issue with it. Acknowledging the savings services like cloud computing can provide, David Vladeck, head of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, writes, "...the storage of data on remote computers may also raise privacy and security concerns for consumers."
The filing goes on to note "...the ability of cloud computing services to collect and centrally store increasing amounts of consumer data, combined with the ease with which such centrally stored data may be shared with others, create a risk that larger amounts of data may be used by entities not originally intended or understood by consumers."
Of course, we've been storing large amounts of consumer data on remote servers since the early days of Internet-based email and it's never seemed to make the FTC stand up and take notice. But with the trend towards cloud computing, we are on the verge from switching from a client-server environment back to a more dummy terminal-mainframe environment, which means we'll become more and more dependent on those remote servers.
In addition to looking into the impact of cloud computing on privacy, the FTC is holding a roundtable on January 28th to look into identity management systems such as Facebook Connect. The discussions will also focus on mobile computing and social networking.