Google is pushing their new cloud computing effort, Chrome OS, as the future of computing. It is getting a lot of attention everywhere - more so probably because of the CR-48. However one person is unconvinced with the concept - in fact he is against this developement. And that person is none other than Richard Stallman, the main proponent of free software.
According to Stallman, Chrome OS means users losing control of their data. Although Chrome OS is based on GNU/Linux, it is quite different from other distributions in the sense that it does not allow users to install software and stores as much data as possible in the cloud - which are essentially servers located somewhere.
According to Stallman, if the data is stored in someone else's server, users looses even legal rights over the data.
In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company's machines instead of your own. The police need to present you with a search warrant to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company's server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant.
In fact, it is not just Chrome OS that Stallman is against - he is against the concept of Cloud Computing. He even mentioned that a better name for Cloud Computing would be "Careless Computing".
This is what Stallman said about Cloud Computing:
I think that marketers like "cloud computing" because it is devoid of substantive meaning. The term's meaning is not substance, it's an attitude: 'Let any Tom, Dick and Harry hold your data, let any Tom, Dick and Harry do your computing for you (and control it).' Perhaps the term 'careless computing' would suit it better.
However the question now is do people really care? In fact many of us already have a lot of data in the cloud. All our emails are stored not with us but with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! etc. Most of our browsing history is already online, millions of photos are with Facebook, Flickr etc. And with online storage services like Dropbox, Ubuntu One, our files are increasingly getting to the cloud. In fact even this website is located in a server we have never seen hundreds of kilometers away.
It is still possible for people to host their own email servers, their own websites, their own online storage service. But no one does it because not everyone has the expertise to do it and many who can do it, do not consider it worth the trouble.
I agree with Stallman's observation about Cloud Computing. However, unless there is a major goof-up by one of these companies, like misusing user's data, people will simply not care about it.
[via: The Guardian]