The Eleventh Post

From the article “The Era of Cloud Computing” by Quentin Hardy, Cloud Computing is “an airy term for real systems of cleverly networked computers, [it] powers thousands of mobile games, workplace software programs and advanced research projects.”  Hardy’s explanation is great because it’s to the point and accurate.

The academic publication “The Ethics of Cloud Computing” brings up several great ethical concerns.  The first is control.  The authors of the publication describe this as data having many different access points, making it impossible to pin the consequences to a single individual if the action taken is in the environment of a networked organization.  It is very difficult to have control over who accesses data when so many contractors and employees all work on the same projects. Another great concern is accountability. Accountability is extremely difficult because records have to be kept on every action that was performed with relevance to the cloud, incase a malicious action occurred.  If a malicious act occurs, then someone can investigate, but cloud computing is moving so fast that most people haven’t considered all the regulations that need to be put into place.

Another great worry is the ownership of the data.  Since people store data on Google Drive or Dropbox (and other platforms), who owns that data? It is meant to be considered private, but are third parties  able to obtain this data?  With cloud computing also comes the spreadability of data.  Copyright material, now more than ever, is easily available with a quick search on the internet. Some of the last concerns, monopolies and privacy, are the most important.  A monopoly on data storage can be ethically troubling because monopolies almost always take advantage of their position and would make it difficult to change platforms.  Privacy is the most troubling part of cloud computing because of all the people that have extremely private information that is stored on a server, which can all be exposed if a password is stolen.

There are so many advantages to the cloud.  The first is using a backend database service.  I used Parse for developing an Android application.  This was a great service because I did not have to deal with any backend issues, it was all handled by Parse.  Parse worked very well with Android, and I was easily able to store locations in the database, and then query the database to retrieve all locations stored by other users.  I have never setup a server, which would have been very difficult to handle the same functions that Parse could handle.   I do plan on using cloud computing platforms such as Parse and Firebase because their service is much cheaper and more reliable than me setting up my own server.

The Android application was meant to be open source, so it’s not a big deal that people see what’s in the database, but this is a potential problem from a consumer’s point of view.  As a consumer, I would not want a worker at a company knowing what information is stored in database, especially if it is supposed to be confidential information. Although someone shouldn’t have to worry about Parse, or another cloud service being hacked, it is more of an issue of the third party using that cloud service being hacked.
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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