Sending data to a cloud seems safe. After all, that data is probably stored thousands of miles away from your home or business. Psychologically, storing data in cloud hosting companies seems really harmless. Data is sent, stored, and you wipe your hands clean of the whole mess. But, don't make the mistake of thinking that your cloud data is above the law.
Cloud Data: Data Information Requests Rising
The image is an interesting one: the government or authorities peeking in on a cloud stuffed with data. It's also a very real one. In 2012, Microsoft went public with some alarming numbers. The company was asked more than 11,000 times for cloud stored data. Who was asking? The U.S. Government. Why? For a whole bunch of reasons.
That quoted 11,000 number is for U.S. Government requests only — it pales in comparison to the 70,000 plus requests the company received from other governments. But, cloud hosting companies like Microsoft would never comply with such requests, right? Your data is safe with companies like this one, right? Not so. Microsoft told press that the company complied with these requests more often than not. Cloud hosting companies aren't above the law either.
Cloud Data: Is A Separate Server Safe?
Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and others usually have no choice but to disclose user information. When the feds come knocking, these companies are legally bound to comply. What's the lesson here? The cloud isn't a completely safe place. Sure, you are storing your information on someone else's servers, but that information is not above the law.
More often than not, data store in clouds is harmless. Then again, if you are committing some kind of fraud or trying to bury some paperwork, the cloud is not your friend. Don't be fooled by the pseudo-safety of the cloud. The cloud is simply not a completely safe place, no matter how cushy it seems to be. But, there might be a catch.
Cloud Data: Location, Location, Location
As realtors are fond of saying: location, location, location! That is, the location of cloud hosting companies matters. You see, that information you send to a cloud (any cloud) is stored somewhere. Where the company you have chosen to use is located matters. Since different countries have different laws, the location of your data is important, kind of.
Under the U.S. Patriot Act, any U.S. company must comply with data requests from the U.S. Government — regardless of where that cloud stored data. What about companies from other countries that want to store data with a cloud company in the U.S.? Well, those companies are subject to U.S. law too. But, if you happen to live in a country outside of the U.S., and you want to store data in a cloud in your country, know the laws.
Cloud Data: Use Common Sense
Very few legal systems will put up with certain types of data. Regardless of where you decide to store your data, be aware of what you are sending to a cloud. Also, be aware of laws governing data storage in your country. In most cases, U.S. cloud storage companies own most of the cloud storage marketplace in other countries (as is the case across Europe), so keep this in mind too.
No matter where you decide to store your cloud data, there's one other thing that you should implement: always keep a hard copy of vital data. This way, you have a backup in case the cloud hosting companies you're dealing with go bust, or are temporarily shut down due to legal matters.