Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Send in the Clouds

I read another article about the police seizing Gizmodo writer Jason Chen's computers. It's a badly edited and improperly formatted article, but this part struck me.
Shield law aside, the seizure was too broad, says Freedom to Tinker's Paul Ohm. The seized equipment likely contained terabytes of data, covering years of Gizmodo journalism completely unrelated to the iPhone prototype.

The police likely have thousands of email messages revealing confidential sources, detailing meetings, and trading comments with editors, and thousands of other documents bearing notes from interviews, drafts of articles, and other sensitive information. Because of Chen's beat, some of these documents probably reveal secrets of great economic and business value in the Silicon Valley.
It made me start singing to myself, "I love the clouds." Police could seize my computer all day and they wouldn't get my email or blogs. I write it all online. It lives on Google's server. I started wondering what song I was singing and thought maybe it was this Stephen Sondheim one. It isn't. It's a U2 song and the real line is, "I love the crowds." But once I googled this up I realized how appropriate the lines are to this situation. What if Jason Chen was an early adopter of cloud computing? He could be singing this sarcastically to the people who seized his computers while he's accessing of all his data on web based servers.

Isn't it rich?
Are we a pair?
I wrote my blog on the ground,
Yet in mid-air.
Send in the clouds.

Isn't it bliss?
Don't you approve?
Cops who keep tearing around,
You who can't move.
Where are the clouds?
Send in the clouds.

Just when I'd stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again with my usual flair,
Sure of my lines,
No one is there.

Don't you love farce?
My fault I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clouds?
Quick, send in the clouds.
Don't bother, they're here.

Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer,
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
And where are the clouds?
There ought to be clouds.
Well, maybe next year.

I wonder what's easier, to get a warrant to force Google to turn over your Gmail or to just take your computer? What if Jason Chen was a big user of Mobile Me and had all his email and iDisk backups on Apple's own servers? Would the Apple people have any right to look at his information themselves or would they have to leave it to the police?

I guess I'm having a hard time identifying with the crisis in this story because when I think of a policeman going through my hard drive trying to find something incriminating or even remotely interesting I come up with nothing. It would be a crap assignment for whoever took my iMac.

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