Tag Archives: nsa

Apple, the NSA, iWork and the cloud

Okay, let me get this straight: the new version of iWork (one that is sorely needed seeing how the last major update of the desktop version of that particular app suite was released back in 2009) is going to be iWork for iCloud. That means that if you want to access get some work done you have to rely on Apple’s servers and online storage, where we your files are ‘conveniently kept for you’ and where you know for a fact that you have no expectation of privacy… am I the only one that sees something very wrong with this particular picture?

Yes, I realize that Google Docs has always been a cloud-based service, and that there are a number of other such services available, but the key there is in the always part of that description. People signing up for these services knew all along just what it was that they were getting into. iWork users, who are stuck with a proprietary format, are effectively being shoved into the cloud whether they want to or not.

Now, I realize that, except for the iOS ecosystem, iWork is a pretty minor player in the field, but I am afraid that this is just the beginning, that other programs will eventually follow suit (so far other programs allow you to collaborate online, but they don’t force you to do so). To me this push towards the cloud is unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the cloud has its uses, and I appreciate the freedom it gives me, and the comfort of knowing that my files are (relatively) safe no matter what happens,  but I want to remain in control of what I store and where I store it. I want to retain the freedom to choose a different service provider or to work off line altogether, and this move (and others like it) threaten to deprive me of that right. It is my computer, my work and my files we are talking about here… what part of MY doesn’t Apple understand? After all, given what Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and the like have done with my trust in the past, is it that surprising that I want Apple and its ilk to keep their filthy hands to themselves?

Keep your powder dry

Another day of following the Snowden saga, another day in which I am left scratching my head, wondering if the US are really that oblivious to the world around them or if they are playing a different kind of game… and what the reasons for doing that may be.

To that last question I have no answers, but the way in which they keep demanding that Russia hand Snowden over seems somewhat suspicious. Why do I say that? Well, to begin with, let’s reverse the situation. What would happen if a Russian or a Chinese former contractor had done something akin to what Snowden has done, and then fled to the US? Would the US just hand that contractor over saying ‘sorry about the inconvenience’? The answer is no, especially not if the situation had unfolded in such a visible way. Domestically doing something like that would cause an outrage. Yes, in the US there is a debate over whether Snowden is a hero or a villain, but to the rest of the world the answer is clear, and I’m assuming the US government is smart enough to know it, so what are they hoping to gain by betting so much political capital on this particular fight?

Yes, I understand that this whole thing is an embarrassment as far as they are concerned, and that they want Snowden and his secrets  back (desperately), but here is an odd concept: foreign government are supposed to serve foreign people, and while a small country such as Ecuador may be bullied into thinking that sheltering Snowden is more trouble than it is worth, neither China nor Russia can afford to be seen as giving in to the US’ huffing and puffing.

Oh, and while we are at it, let’s not ignore the fact that whatever information Snowden took with him, chances are that by now it has a dead-man’s switch attached (something happens to Snowden and the information gets released… all of it), so even if they were to get their man, the resulting damage could be a lot worse. On the other hand the information in question is of a somewhat time sensitive nature, it has to be. Programs change, technology evolves, so why not wait? Yes, they want their guy and their secrets back, but at what cost? Or is it a completely different game that they are playing?