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Prepare To Abandon Your Soul & Data To Google's Government-Readable Cloud

Updated on July 13, 2009
Download this wallpaper sized image and place it as your desktop background. It will remind you to keep your data where it belongs. On your own hard drive!
Download this wallpaper sized image and place it as your desktop background. It will remind you to keep your data where it belongs. On your own hard drive!

Hi Kimaya!

How are things in Colombo? I guess it must be nice now that your country has finally recovered from the years of war with the Tamil Tigers! I really should come down and visit now that the threat of bombings is over in Sri Lanka.

The summer of 2011 here has been really hot but with the advent of the strongest El Nino ever recorded and the cumulative effects of global warming, I guess it was to be expected. I spent most of the summer indoors ringing up a huge electrical bill with my Lennox central air conditioning compressor chugging away outside the house and I was grateful for each and every chug!

I've spent even more time this summer indoors on my computer than usual just to get away from the blistering heat. Last winter I took the plunge and stopped resisting cloud computing. After all, I couldn't justify spending $200 for an operating system and $700 for an office suite when somewhat equivalent functionality was available through the Googlesphere. Google Docs has matured to the point where it effectively replaces Microsoft Office, and I don't have to put up with that horrible huge malodorous ribbon at the top of my monitor.

I also stopped resisting Google Chrome OS. My last justification for avoiding Google's cloud computing initiative was that the net giant's Linux based operating system did not allow for Windows applications to be run on my system. It doesn't really support anything that isn't in the cloud. So I couldn't use my Photoshop in the cloud and that was the one app I couldn't live without.

Google's takeover of Adobe last year and the issuance of Google Creative Suite as part of Google Docs finally convinced even me. The availability of a $1200 suite of image manipulation tools in the Google cloud for absolutely free sealed the deal.

Yes, I do get a bit annoyed at the constant Scientology ads that get served up on the top of the screen, but at least they aren't as big as the Microsoft Office ribbon, although just as noxious.

But... what the heck... between the operating system, the Office functionality, and the Creative Suite apps, that's dang near two grand worth of software that I'm getting absolutely free, so even the most dyed in the wool traditionalist, supporter and evangelist of "old fashioned keep it on your hard drive" computing had to finally capitulate... and I did.

I actually didn't expect the transition from running the apps off my own system two feet away from me to running the apps off a Google hard drive in some enormous server farm in India or Russia or somewhere to be as smooth as it was. It's a bit weird to think that your own hard drive now only contains boot instructions as I still don't know what I'm going to do with the terabyte that's left over, but I guess that's still me thinking in the "old fashioned way". It's 2011 and progress continues no matter what.

At first I was a bit apprehensive about shifting over 50 GB of my precious data to Google's servers. After all, my data includes archives back to the days when I was on a Mac IIfx all the way to today. All my email. All my correspondence. All my everything! And there were rumors that the U.S. Government had obtained access to every byte...

It was all a bit disconcerting, but I guess I got used to it. I didn't really believe that government access story anyway. Just more online scare tactics by forum frequenters who are passionate Microsoft supporters, I guess...

Something else which I guess must be completely unrelated but is just as disconcerting was the email I received from a friend last week. He told me that my old buddy Jeong got arrested and is facing twenty years in jail. Jeong was a great guy who did some stupid things years ago when he was young and greedy. He didn't hurt anyone but he did play some games financially that weren't really above board. I always adopted the "don't ask don't tell" policy with Jeong, and at one point told him to stop emailing me with information on his "activities." I wanted to know Jeong as a friend and not as a "financial manipulator" as it was none of my damn business.

Then this morning I got a frantic call from Balthazar, a former business partner. He was literally out of his mind and was screaming at me like a maniac. Apparently the IRS is auditing him and the agent asked him specific questions about transactions Balthazar conducted years ago that were never revealed outside the partnership. I told him I have never told a soul about any of that and I never would. We never even discussed it on the phone with each other, only in person, and the only documents that would prove those transactions were never even printed out for security. They were zipped up safely and securely in my Archive File and that's where they have stayed for years.

I'd been wondering if that could have had anything to do with my old buddy Wiktor getting notification that the RIAA was charging him with copyright violation on 37 illegal songs and demands $25,000 per count. Wiktor doesn't even know what the heck a torrent site is, let alone how to use it, but he's a vintage polka fanatic, couldn't find those old recordings anywhere in official music sites, and he had asked me to copy those 37 songs on a USB key for him. How could the RIAA find out that he had those songs since he didn't download them? Very strange.

I really started to get suspicious, however, when my ex wife called a few minutes ago. She was going on and on as to how her lawyer managed to get some information from the government to prove that I'd been understating my income to minimize the alimony payments. How could she ever have found out, given that my "secret" income source is overseas, only pays through my Paypal, I never withdraw any of the money and only use it to make purchases of gold coins which are shipped to my drop box address in Auckland? I arrange for everything online and make sure that I never have any "paper trail."

Heck, Kimaya, I remember a few emails from you when you were younger expressing support for the Tamils! I'm glad you changed your tone since then, but you could be in big trouble with your government if any of those old messages surfaced somehow!

I have to stop writing now. There's a ruckus outside. At least four police cars are pulling up into my driveway with lights and sirens blazing. I wonder what the heck they want?

OK, this is a fictional story. I don't know a Kimaya, Jeong, Balthazar, Wiktor, don't download pirated songs, or have a New Zealand address. It was written to prove that there are significant aspects of Google's dream of cloud computing that might not be in the best interests of personal computer users.

Right now all your data, all your information, all your archives, all your past correspondence, and all your "secrets" reside on a hard drive which is an arm's length away.

Can you truly trust some $400 billion corporation to have each and every byte of that data sitting on its own servers?

For Google to scan the info for marketing information and barrage you with "tailored" ads might be innocuous enough, but what about when the servers are accessed by government agencies? Is there really absolutely not one word anywhere on your hard drive that couldn't get you, or someone you know, into trouble? If so, you're one of the very few!

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Microsoft has just announced that they will put Office 2010 in the cloud as well. Their minds must be the ones that are cloud-ed as that opens up even more ways for your data to get into the hands of darn near anyone who wants it. Can you trust Google and Microsoft with your "secrets"? I know what my answer is!


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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks! I had a conversation a few days ago with an avid computer user on this subject. He said that he wasn't concerned about the cloud at all. He had nothing to hide. I asked him about the 500+ GB of media on his HD. He admitted that he had not paid for one single byte of it. It was all downloaded illegally. Nothing to hide, huh? :)

    • pcdriverupdate profile image


      10 years ago from VA

      interesting and very scary the possibilities.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      The way the cloud accesses your data is that it:

      1) Maintains a copy of any file you've opened in the cloud

      2) Has access to the relevant directories on your HD

      I'm with you. I'm staying out of the clouds! :)

    • Headstrong Farm profile image

      Headstrong Farm 

      10 years ago from Rhode Island

      I have to agree with every word here. The thought of 'cloud computing' has always disturbed me (since I first heard the term), but I haven't really researched the details. I figured it was similar to running an app from a server, but the files that you're creating are stored on your computer. I thought that is the only way that anyone would buy into the idea. I never would, of course, because I'm paranoid about security and KNOW that whatever cloud app you are using can be keylogging at the very least. The mear thought of my documents being on the cloud servers doesn't just scare me, it pisses me off. So I'm another voice adding my "Hell NO!"...

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      I love it when companies like Google say that they won't reveal it to the government. Have they ever heard of a subpoena duces tecum? Just one little tiny court order and every byte on their servers has to be turned over. Either that or the entire board can be arrested. Do you really think that the Google billionaires will go to jail to protect their user's data? No chance! :)

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      Scary stuff, Hal - and it's scary enough that Google has all the info, even if they swear never to reveal it to governments. Global businesses are bigger and more powerful than some entire countries these days.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Let's say that you're working on one of your books on Google Docs or Microsoft Office 2010 online. Every word is now on their servers, forever. There is no way to retreive it or to order them to delete it. They effectively own your work forever! Yikes!

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thanks for answering. I have always taken the notion that anything done on-line is public information, so no, I am not worried about what I do on-line. However, books in progress on my hard-drive, are not something I wish to have made public in any manner.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Note the LATE BREAKING NEWS at the bottom of the Hub's text, folks!

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Jarn, you're welcome.

      Christa Dovel, it is acknowledged by Google that Gmail contents are automatically scanned and thus a record of all email sent on Gmail is held, as well as your IP and searches on the search engine, which can be easily correlated (as seen by the AOL leak of 650,000 individual's searches a few years back). As for other Google products like Google Docs, it follows that anything you do online on a Google server is going straight to them and that anyone who uses Google Docs to work on information that in any way could be termed "sensitive" is crazy.

      Basically you have to ask yourself this question. Do the keystrokes I'm about to hit in any way fit the parameters of information that I want to keep private? If so, there had better not be anything with the Google name on your monitor when you do! :)

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Obviously this Google Chrome OS is no good, but how does using other google features affect a person? Would we be best off to back up, remove all traces of google, wipe the hard-drive clean, and basically start over? I mean if they want to be that snoopy, is it worth using any of their services?

      (as I spell check with a google toolbar, have an adsense account, use my g-mail to reach this article, etc...)

    • Jarn profile image


      10 years ago from Sebastian, Fl

      That's some scary stuff right there. Thanks for posting.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Your unanimous reactions show that there is a clear and present danger that millions of individuals who are actually swallowing Google's hype are not aware of. The minute they load Chrome OS they've just opened up their entire data stash to the world. It's gonna be ugly! Look out!

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image


      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Hal, I'm (nearly) speechless. With the preoccupation most Americans have regarding privacy, I cannot believe that people would 'buy into' this service, even though it offers so much for free.

      The limits of government monitoring have been less and less restrained over the past few decades as a result of heightened acess to global technology by the public (and our enemies) and the judiciary's ackowledgement of the government's need to be proactive when it concerns national security. Nonetheless, when a citizen's private information comes into the government's purview even under the umbrella of overarching national security monitoring, it will impact their lives much closer to home IN WAYS THEY WON"T APPRECIATE.

    • profile image

      Ann Wright 

      10 years ago

      This is bad business; thanks for the update. I noticed some time ago that Google was snooping my email. Exchanged a couple of emails with a realtor in another state and the next day the ads I was seeing when doing a Google search all had to do with travel to that other state, hotels there, stores there. Your hub scares me! --Ann

    • RVDaniels profile image


      10 years ago from Athens, GA

      Damn scary, bro! The Big Eye has enough access into our lives as is.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      fortunerep: Cloud computing means that your data belongs to Google. That's it. What they do with it is up to them alone. If they were so inclined, they could even make it all publicly accessible. Everything, every word currently on the hard drives of every Google Chrome OS user: Your shopping list, your mailing list, your passwords, your tax filings, everything at all that's on your HD right now. Who could stop them?

      Teresa McGurk: Although the Chrome browser is integral to Google's snoopware, it's only when the Chrome OS kicks in that all your data literally belongs to Google. But it's a wise precaution to steer away from anything to do with Google's stormcloud right now and for the foreseeable future.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      10 years ago from The Other Bangor

      good grief. speechless, and very interested in this information. *now going for a remedial cuppa tea to calm down*

      good grief (I said that already).

      thanks for the info -- Google Chrome is about to be removed from my hard drive right now. Just in case. . .

    • fortunerep profile image

      Dori S Matte 

      10 years ago from Hillsborough

      they do what? on helll no


    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      tommywong, not at all. Cloud computing through Google Chrome OS takes ALL your personal data off your hard drive and places it on Google's computers. The government doesn't have to hack anything, all they need to do is get a court order to access that data (easy for them to do) and every byte is accessible by government agents.

    • tommywong profile image


      10 years ago from Malaysia

      I read this hub more than 5 times, it seen like someone can broke into our computer and steal our harddisk information, i wouldn't say it not possible, but i think if not purposely do so, it wouldn't happen, story in this hub somehow talking about hecker too,rite?



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