Richard Stallman has his sights set on a new rights related target. The outspoken founder of the FSF believes that Chrome OS and cloud computing are “worse than stupidity.” Stallman also believes that Google’s push into “careless computing” will result in the loss of rights for users.
“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.”
Chrome OS shifts the traditional computing paradigm and moves all of the users data to the cloud. All applications are webapps and are run through the browser. Google has also recently released its CR-48 netbook to lucky testers, with a final version of the OS and hardware expected next year. Living in the cloud isn’t the type of life Stallman is hoping for. He believes “cloud computing” is strictly marketing fluff targeted at convincing users that letting someone else control their data is a smart move.
“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.”
Stallman even goes so far as to brand Chrome OS users and by extension cloud-adopters, suckers.
“I suppose many people will continue moving towards careless computing, because there’s a sucker born every minute. The US government may try to encourage people to place their data where the US government can seize it without showing them a search warrant, rather than in their own property. However, as long as enough of us continue keeping our data under our own control, we can still do so. And we had better do so, or the option may disappear.”
Although Stallman’s typical demeanor often serves to invalidate and condemn his opinions, at least in this case what he is predicting could be partly right. For users to feel truly safe, Google will have to satisfy that their data is theirs: Private and under the same controls as data stored at home.