Wozniak is wrong about cloud computing

But by raising red flag, Apple co-founder highlights important detail for anyone considering the cloud: Read the privacy policy

In a recent interview, Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs, predicted "horrible problems" with the use of cloud computing over the next five years.

"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said. "I think it's going to be horrendous." He added: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away."

[ Also on InfoWorld: "Apple iCloud breach proves Wozniak's point about cloud risks." | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

I was taken back by this statement, especially since most provider agreements state that you do own your data in their cloud. Perhaps he was referring to consumer clouds and social networking sites that may present different terms.

Wozniak's warning is fair enough. You should read your agreement and contracts before uploading critical data to any cloud computing provider, including how the data will be protected and returned if necessary. This kind of documentation is especially important for business-oriented providers.

If I've read Wozniak's concerns correctly, I suspect he's referring more to consumer-oriented clouds and social networking sites that leverage your information in exchange for use of their services. I, too, am wary of the amount of data we provide to these outfits, without assurances of protection and privacy. When was the last time you read a privacy policy before accepting it?

Before you declare Wozniak a prophet or a fool, take a breath and remind yourself: First, when Silicon Valley rock stars make big statements, their words will be sliced and diced, so be prepared for the spin. Second, he's making very general statements that may be true in some aspects of the emerging use of cloud-based systems, but they may not apply in the larger world of more business-oriented cloud computing.

Finally, it's good to get another take on the shift to cloud computing, including a close examination of the agreements we sign and who we trust with our data. Reading the fine print can't hurt -- much.

This article, "Wozniak is wrong about cloud computing," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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