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Cloud Electronic Frontier Foundation Government The Internet United States Your Rights Online

US Government: You Don't Own Your Cloud Data So We Can Access It At Any Time 531

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
New submitter jest3r writes "On Tuesday the EFF filed a brief proposing a process for the Court in the Megaupload case to hold the government accountable for the actions it took (and failed to take) when it shut down Megaupload's service and denied third parties access to their property. Many businesses used Megaupload's cloud service to store and share files not related to piracy. The government is calling for a long, drawn-out process that would require individuals or small companies to travel to courts far away and engage in multiple hearings just to get their own property back. Additionally, the government's argument that you lose all your property rights by storing your data on the cloud could apply to Amazon's S3 or Google Apps or Apple iCloud services as well (see page 4 of their filing)."
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US Government: You Don't Own Your Cloud Data So We Can Access It At Any Time

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  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:42PM (#41855133) Journal

    Anyone surprised?

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:43PM (#41855143)

    hey, what's that pressure I feel?

    its the pressure of a boot, stomping on your face. pressing down, always pressing down.

  • by Holi (250190) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:43PM (#41855151)

    Does this mean that my backups to Barracuda Networks cloud service are no longer mine? This would kill cloud services.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:44PM (#41855171)

    Nice move government you just destroyed pretty much all of the cloud computing industry.

    Huzzah.

  • local storage FTW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Janek Kozicki (722688) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:48PM (#41855225) Journal

    cloud storage is an easy target: it hosts data of many individuals, and is a single entity. Of course govt will want easy access to that, since that's a lot simpler than requesting access from each person separately.

    And that is why I never wanted to use cloud storage. I didn't need it also, to be honest. I always prefer my personal servers that I manage myself, and can encrypt & backup at my own desire.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:50PM (#41855243)

    Nice move government you just destroyed pretty much all of the cloud computing industry.

    Huzzah.

    Yeah. Say you're a business relying on cloud storage/computing:

    1. Use cloud services

    2. Someone else also using cloud service suspected of doing something illegal.

    3. Service provider shut down/seized by feds.

    4. No profit.

    There's not even room for the ambiguity of a "???" in that sequence.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:51PM (#41855253)
    I believe warrantless wire taping started under Bush....*eye roll*
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:52PM (#41855267)

    Does this mean that my backups to Barracuda Networks cloud service are no longer mine?

    I don't get where supposed rational technical people on Slashdot of all places, think that any data they transmit over public networks NEVERMIND then storing said data on hard drives owned and physically controlled by someone else, was ever YOURS.

    Forget law. The physical reality of the thing is that by definition, any data you are keeping on devices controlled by someone else is never really yours. You just might be able to access it, and even that is never guaranteed.

    Cloud backups are great as a cheap last offsite resort but are not the same as backups that you physically control. You should never have data you care about recovering on a cloud service that you do not also have in multiple copies on devices you own.

    Any other notion is just fantasy.

  • Re:Flipside (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:58PM (#41855377)

    Does this mean that all of those copyrighted works I am hosting "in the cloud" are no longer the property of their respected copyright holders? I can see this being argued in all sorts of funny ways.

    No no, see, because those rights holders have lots of very expensive lawyers on retainer. Do you? Thought not.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:59PM (#41855395) Homepage Journal

    Were the Rolling Stones singing to the US Government? HEY, YOU, GET OFF OF MY CLOUD!

    One more reason to maintain your own data and backups. Like you say, this shouldn't have surprised anyone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:59PM (#41855397)

    By your logic the money we keep in the bank isn't ours either.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:59PM (#41855407)

    Realistically, what might end up happening is that some startup gets off the ground whose sole function in life is to provide an in-house encryption appliance similar to a HSM. Data goes in to the module, encrypted data gets stored in the cloud. All keys are kept in a "physically secure" 1U rack module with a USB port in front so one can back up the keys stored in the device.

    Businesses will buy those encryption appliances, and IT goes on as normal.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:00PM (#41855411) Homepage

    That would be Romney... good luck there.

    He's from the same faction that started this nonsense.

    It's like leaving a guy that doesn't worship you enough for one that beats you black and blue every night.

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:00PM (#41855417)
    Public road is not the same as a cloud service. The better analogy would be parking garage.
  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:03PM (#41855477)

    When the governments of the USA and Iran are using the same playbook you shouldn't really be surprised by stuff like this.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:03PM (#41855485) Homepage

    I don't get where supposed rational technical people on Slashdot of all places, think that any data they transmit over public networks NEVERMIND then storing said data on hard drives owned and physically controlled by someone else, was ever YOURS.

    Sounds a lot like stuff transported over public roads.

    You moved it in your car from your house a the local U-Haul storage locker. You used an Interstate Highway. Therefore it's not really your property. Now the government can come and take it at will. Great logic there.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:03PM (#41855493)

    Wonderful how that excuses the continued erosion of our civil rights. "Well Bush did it."

    What a great get out of jail card that is.

  • Re:So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:04PM (#41855517)
    Kind of irrelevant to the point. The o.p. stated the justice department is out of control under obama ignoring what the justice department did under bush - warrantless wire tapping, water boarding, enemy combatant, suspending Habeas corpus, indefinite detention....the list goes on...
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:07PM (#41855565) Homepage Journal

    It wouldn't be such a problem if they would stop shutting the whole damn thing down whenever someone does something wrong. They don't need to do that. I'm surprised they haven't figured out they could get by without a lot of whining/protesting if they just stop using a bulldozer when a hammer is appropriate.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:14PM (#41855671)

    thank you.

    the tranport has NOTHING, NOTHING to do with your privacy and rights.

    why link the two? this is playing into their trap!

    "oh, but you stored it blah and it went over blah and it left your house ..."

    so fucking what!

    seriously - so what. and I wrapped it in a blue envelope and its 'we hate blue envelopes day' today so we get to keep it.

    arbitrary reasons, repeated many times, does not make them have any more sense and reason.

    yes, my data went over wires I don't own. SO FUCKING WHAT!

    what's next: anything that's not kept in your hands 100% of the time is open to be taken away? where does this encroachment end?

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:14PM (#41855679)

    I believe warrantless wire taping started under Bush....*eye roll*

    But this is certainly the first one someone claims you lose your rights to data by placing it with an external providers

    I am sure that companies that provide storage lockers are watching this with interest. Next, on suspicion of drugs, seize the entire local U-Store branch... Or the entire contents of bank safebox room. And let the owners come forward and sue to recover if they can prove them own their stuff legally. (and imagine there was a car analogy somewhere in there)

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yt8znu35 (1202731) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:17PM (#41855723)
    It is utterly laughable to attribute this to the imaginary Obama totalitarianism put forth by the paranoid ultra right. DoJ started down this path long ago. Republicans pine for gov't snooping to stop "the terrorists," and Democrats believe in the power of government too much to disagree. Plus there is pointless worry about file sharing. Government snooping would increase substantially under Romney and would continue at at least the current pace under Obama. Government seeks to control. This will continue to get worse no matter which party is in charge. Americans value comfort, not freedom.
  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:17PM (#41855729) Journal

    Actually, this is wrong. IANAL, but I *am* a right-wing logician so everything I say makes extreme amounts of sense.

    What you need to understand here is that data stored "in the cloud" is data stored in leased property. That is, you store the data in property owned by someone else who has conferred to you access rights to use their property for storage--in fact, Web services like AWS hosted servers could be considered similar to living and operating space.

    To the point, in one model you lease a home--house, apartment--or a building or office area in a building. Legally, leases make you a tenant, which gives you rights of occupancy. As such, the property is yours--the landlord is not legally capable of conferring to police the right to enter the property; the landlord cannot even enter the property himself without your consent, except in emergency situations (including property damage--leaking pipes etc). Thus you have legal ownership of everything in the rented space, and legal jurisdiction over such.

    Cloud services similarly confer tenancy onto a customer. Certain facilities are turned over to the customer, keys made (login accounts), leases billed. The facilities are owned by the cloud service provider; however there are terms of lease, there is an expectation of control over facilities, an expectation of non-intrusion. Loading your data into "the cloud" doesn't confer the right for the provider to happily peruse your data. Your data could contain customer personal information, which would place the provider into a situation of high liability for casually perusing.

    Counter-arguments about terms-of-service and other such things can be made here; but consider simply what would happen if a service provider chose to data mine through customers' private data. Think of the civil and criminal possibilities. We quickly realize that, in practice, such behavior would result in severe suits. If we surmise that the courts would judge against the provider, then we admit that a cloud service is a tenancy, a lease to resources and to space, and that it comes with tenant assumptions such as residency in said space--privacy, control, ownership.

    This complicates things. On the other hand, it creates more resistance than grey area: it makes it ... difficult to argue that a service provider has the right to turn over data of a customer, or that the police can order suspension of services to tenants through the service provider without an order to the tenants. It provides that ownership must be seized from tenants--search and seizure of the general service provider is potentially not legal, and could cause uncomfortable, difficult, complicated court battles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:20PM (#41855787)

    Of course it isn't. The banks can keep you from your money any time they want. They've actually done it in the past. The only thing keeping them from just right out claiming your money is a fragile social contract...

  • Yeah Gee (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:23PM (#41855851) Homepage Journal
    If only there were a way to keep the Government from seizing your property! You should have a right to own your property! Now if only there were an enumeration... maybe a bill... of those rights somewhere... that the Government would have to abide by. And by design such a thing should have a process by which it could be updated as technologies advance in a way that society could not have predicted at the time of its writing.

    But yeah, I know, that's just crazy talk...

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:25PM (#41855889)

    I believe warrantless wire taping started under Bush....*eye roll*

    An excellent example! It did start under Bush. And Obama, plucky Senator from Illinois, railed against the program.

    Until he became president.

    Merely three days after being sworn in, the tune changed, article here [wikipedia.org], with citations 1 [wired.com] and 2 [wired.com]:

    On January 23, 2009, the administration of President Barack Obama adopted the same position as his predecessor when it urged U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to set aside a ruling in Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation et al. v. Obama, et al. The Obama administration also sided with the former administration in its legal defense of July, 2008 legislation that immunized the nation's telecommunications companies from lawsuits accusing them of complicity in the eavesdropping program, according to testimony by Attorney General Eric Holder.

    AC's point stands pretty clear with this information, I think.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:26PM (#41855905) Journal

    Nonsense, there could hardly be a bigger stimulus. If you don't own your data when it's in the cloud, you can't be responsible for it. Just keep all your pirated material in the cloud and watch Amazon get sued for it.

    Wait, you mean you can still get sued for data hosted in the cloud? So it's my data when it's convenient for the government, and it's not my data when it's convenient for the government.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:27PM (#41855933)

    Kind of irrelevant to the point. The o.p. stated the justice department is out of control under obama ignoring what the justice department did under bush - warrantless wire tapping, water boarding, enemy combatant, suspending Habeas corpus, indefinite detention....the list goes on...

    How do you rectify ignoring one past administration (Hoover) and not ignoring another past administration (Bush)?

    The current Obama DoJ maintained the status quo, the sins of the fathers, by choice.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by History's Coming To (1059484) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:28PM (#41855963) Journal
    That I don't own the data on umpteen computers owned by company X who are hiring the equipment from company Y who rent server racks in facility Z? No, not surprised in the slightest.

    You want full control of your data? Own the hardware and don't plug it into the interwebs.
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:28PM (#41855967) Homepage Journal

    Then take an image, and bring it back up (with the suspect accounts suspended). There is no reason to take it all down for so long.

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:31PM (#41856019) Homepage Journal

    "What you need to understand here is that data stored "in the cloud" is data stored in leased property. That is, you store the data in property owned by someone else who has conferred to you access rights to use their property for storage--in fact, Web services like AWS hosted servers could be considered similar to living and operating space. "

    Then you better learn what the fuck Right to Possession means, if you're going to use such a flawed logical analogy, and see why your words just went to shit with that supposition.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:40PM (#41856157) Journal

    Which just goes to show, you can't grant power to government and confine it only to your own party. Typically, when the other party holds office, they inherit the power. Something to think about when your representatives grant far reaching power to *your* candidate.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:41PM (#41856175) Homepage

    I don't get where supposed rational technical people on Slashdot of all places, think that any data they transmit over public networks NEVERMIND then storing said data on hard drives owned and physically controlled by someone else, was ever YOURS.

    Depends on your definition of "YOURS". Most people in modern Western civilizations recognize a distinction between posession and ownership.

    The physical reality of the thing is that by definition, any data you are keeping on devices controlled by someone else is never really yours.

    Shall I assume, by that definition, that you never park your car anywhere except on your own property, and that you never leave it in the custody of an auto repair or maintenance facility? Similarly, have you never left your coat at a coat check, or let your dry cleaner have posession of your clothing?

    Your statement is both valid and poignant regarding the risk of a custodian unlawfully distributing or granting access to your information. This argument, however, claims you have no legal standing regarding the information in the first place, like saying you no longer own your street clothes when you leave them in the gym locker.

    Cloud backups are great as a cheap last offsite resort but are not the same as backups that you physically control. You should never have data you care about recovering on a cloud service that you do not also have in multiple copies on devices you own.

    Your advice is sound, particularly in the current legally uncertain context. But it does not imply that the government's argument is reasonable or excusable. It is our responsibility to the future of our nation to protect its information security from these misguided government officials. We must raise our voices against this sort of behavior precisely because our legal right to our information is not yet rooted in statutory bedrock.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Artraze (600366) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:45PM (#41856241)

    > That would be Romney... good luck there.

    At least luck is a factor. Obama has already proven he's more then willing to run with this crap, and that was in the first term when he'd theoretically be trying to stay enough on the good side of the populace to get reelected.

    > It's like leaving a guy that doesn't worship you enough for one that beats you black and blue every night.

    No, it's like leaving a guy that beats you black and blue every night for a guy that hung out with someone that used to beat you black and blue every night. I'm not going to pretend that Romney would be any better, but realistically given how willing Obama has been picking up where Bush left off, I can hardly consider 'Romney's going to be like Bush because he's from the same faction as Bush' as much of a reason to consider Obama over Romney.

  • Re:So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:55PM (#41856379)

    As a foreigner in Japan you will have NO rights. Good luck with that.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tattood (855883) on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:07PM (#41856573)

    Either that or Obama cynically lied to his supporters throughout his entire campaign.

    Isn't that just called running for office?

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:09PM (#41856611) Homepage

    The problem is that the major media outlets refuse to acknowledge the existence of other parties. They can hold a rally that 100 people show up for and no news outlet will even mention it. AP and Reuters will ignore it, even if they are handed a press release.

    Is it possible to engage a third party candidate in a debate of any sort with Republican or Democratic candidates? No.

    The major problem is that for the most part the parties have not managed to garner 5% of the vote and until that threshold is met they are deemed to be irrelevant. Part of the problem is they aren't going to get 5% of the vote without being publicized by the media so we have a chicken-and-egg problem.

    The last time there was a realistic third party Presidential candidate was in 1992 with Ross Perot. He did get more than 15% of the vote but the party he was fronting collapsed and has no candidates any longer. So the media's belief that these candidates are irrelevant keeps getting validated.

    In reality the only way out of this situation is for someone from say the Libertarian party to cross over and become the Republican candidate. If they were elected this would go a long way towards making these parties relevant. I think that is the only way they will achieve relevance. Certainly getting 3% (or less) of the vote isn't going to do it.

  • Re:So.... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:10PM (#41856621)

    Yes, because Bush... Obama can do whatever he wants. We can always look back to Bush. Obama can do no wrong... because Bush. If people died while Bush was President it's fine for Obama to kill them willy nilly now. Because under Obama we surely live in the best of all possible situations, merely because he's not Bush.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:23PM (#41856845)

    Anyone surprised?

    Of course not. The US government is bald-facedly beholden only to corporations and turned the country into a true oppressive totalitarian state. I have a real opportunity to live and work in Japan, I'm seriously considering taking the offering company up on it and sayng "fuck this".

    In this case, I'm not sure it's all about the government being beholden to corporations, as it seems Megaupload is getting screwed too, as well as any other companies that may have legitimate data on those servers. The government's behavior shows that it's more about Government wanting to do whatever they want w/o regard to anyone's (personal or corporate) rights - you know, for the "greater good" - and setting a precedent for such activity.

    True, they're pursuing supposed copyright infringement, but we, the people, voted in the unethical, corrupt monkeys that passed the laws being enforced. Perhaps after enough poo has been flung, we'll get up off our lazy asses and do some laundry...

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:27PM (#41856933)

    It was NOT all right for Bush to do it and it is NOT all right for Obama to do it. And it will NOT be all right for Romney to do it. Nor was it right for whatever clandestine degree Clinton, Bush Sr, His Holiness Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, etc. etc. etc.

    Screw your petty little partisan sniping. Some of us want to be able to live in the country we say we are, not in the country we've become.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by superdave80 (1226592) on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:19PM (#41857827)

    I'd be careful about parking your car in a private parking structure then.

    You want full control of your car? Own the garage that it is parked in.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:41PM (#41858133)

    I rent a locker at a local storage locker company.
    The guy with the locker next to mine, fills his with drugs ... and gets caught.
    Police put a crime scene tape around the entire facility and block my access to my stuff.
    Police want to verify that there isn't any drugs in my locker.

    I think you missed the best part.
    Police confiscates drugs along with your stuff and the contents of every other locker in the facility
    You are invited to sue them and prove that your stuff is yours and is acquired legally. But you are (probably) never getting your things back if you just wait.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GSloop (165220) <networkguru@@@sloop...net> on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:42PM (#41858161) Homepage

    [sarcasm] [cynicism] [dispair]
    If Romney is pres, you can at least expect the Dems to wet their pants in horror over Romney's civil liberties abuses, just like they did with Bush.
    [/sarcasm] [/cynicism] [/dispair]

    Now, is that a better or worse situation than the current one, where Dems seem completely uninterested that a Democratic President is murdering citizens without any due process far from any "battlefield."

    I'm not sure I know - but it certainly throws a wet blanket on the "the Republicans are SO crazy" that electing Romney has to be worse.

    [You may dispute it's murder, but IMO, killing someone without due process and not on a battle-field is murder. There simply is no recognized legal basis for it, and unless it's recognized by law, one should consider it murder.]

    At least, if we could count on Dems cynically using the situation to maximize damage to Romney, and opposing, as they once did such civil liberties excesses, then it might actually be better. Perhaps not better for the reasons you'd have thought, but because of shameless cynicism.

    The downside? That wretched stew can't be good for the country.

    As I see it...we are so screwed, it can only be amusing, in a sick twisted way.

  • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toriver (11308) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:53PM (#41859105)

    Heh, I can see the future of research reports:

    Bibliography
    Just google it.

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