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Why You Might Not Want to Use Dropbox

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Cloud-Storage with online privacy and security

In a post-Snowden world, pretty much everyone in the general public knows what many of us have long expected anyway: that our dear governments are out there to harass and fight us rather than protect and serve us — and that, at the end of the day and after using all our own tax money against ourselves,  they are not so good after all.

While the most outrageous example of a rogue country and of a government gone wrong, the U. S. and their misanthropic NSA machinery including their PRISM project is but one example of many: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U. K. are as bad as the U. S. itself — illegally spying on their own citizens as well as other countries, whether friend or foe, as their extensive eavesdropping on governments and corporations in Europe has shown: this is a very fine friendship, and these are very fine friends, indeed!

A part of “normal” government surveillance, i e abuse of power, is routinely and systematically collecting all data governments can get a hold of, and in the age of cheap mass storage this is an awful lot. It most prominently includes not just user data of the “big nine” names on the internet, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft’s Hotmail and Skype services, Amazon, YouTube, Vimeo, and Dropbox — but in fact every service located in the U. S. or connected to that “Land of the Free”, and then some…

Although initially appearing to be “better” than YouTube or GoogleDrive, it has now turned out that Vimeo and Dropbox are not one tat better than the former. Both Vimeo and Dropbox are “in” on the big surveillance club and routinely hand over user data and violate their customers’ privacy. Again, some very fine “service” providers, indeed!

The solution is simple: as so often, it’s an economic one and it’s got to do with free markets: don’t use any of these treasonous offerings anymore, cancel all of your services with them ASAP, and go somewhere else.

Impossible? Not really, unless you are totally uninformed and/or don’t care anyway. With just a minimum of knowledge and very little effort on your part, you can switch to better services, move yourself to “greener pastures”, store your data in a “brighter cloud” and generally get yourself out of harm’s way.

Want still another solution? Fine, here comes: support or start a class action for  Fourth Amendment violations against these companies and make them pay for it.

Even are “in” on it, and that despite their unique selling point of protecting customer Privacy! The only ones standing out and standing up against the increasingly tyrannical U. S. government are, who closed their operations rather than colluding with a government gone wild, and freezing their U. S.-based confidential e-mail service as a preemptive measure against being bullied by the NSA. These are commendable exemptions though, the rule being that nearly all the others turn a blind eye to their customers’ interests and co-operate with what increasingly looks like a dictatorship without any regard to the Constitution or common sense.

Dropbox, for instance, is not only co-operating with “security” services under the U. S. Patriot Act (which is bad enough, as it is unconstitutional), they could not guarantee your Privacy even if they wanted to. The simple reason for that is that Dropbox is not a “real” service provider, not even a “vendor” of some existing solution, but nothing else than a front end to some portions of’s giant storage infrastructure or a “white labelled” piece of Amazon S3. You never know where your data is going to end up with Dropbox, whether it is physically stored in Amazon’s Location A or their Location B, who actually controls your data, what happens to your data after fragmentation, not even if it is really erased when you “delete” it, and where your data is going to end up.

This is the last thing you’d ever want to happen from a Privacy point of view or from a Corporate Security point of view, depending on whether you’re a private household or a business.

In both instances, the risks involved are not worth the “convenience factor” of sharing or collaborating over the Net and should clearly be avoided by using a different approach and different software solutions.

One such solution is coming to your rescue from the Open Source community, it’s fully under your own control, it’s convenient, secure, and free from illegal government backdoors. It even comes free of charge as all Open Source solutions do. But the most important point is its being Free as in Freedom. The name is ownCloud, and it is a server-based solution that can be deployed at corporate data centres large or small as well as your web server, if you happen to run Apache or similar as an individual (more people than you might think, in fact, do).

The top executives of ownCloud, Markus Rex and Matt Richards, recognise the importance Dropbox so far had in redefining data access. They are aware of Dropbox having produced an easy-to-use user ‘really cool’ experience and believe that this new freedom to share and collaborate is in the consumer space to stay. However, it can be a nightmare from both an IT security and an admin point of view as the application is tied to a personal account outside the control of the IT department (or the user in a personal setting). Their ownCloud project proposes an alternative: a sync and share application under your own control.

This project was started in 2010 and remains an active Open Source project: it currently has over 45 contributors and more than 400.000 users worldwide.